Although the Providence Journal has suggested in several
full-page house ads that its competitors in the New England Newspaper
Association's Newspaper of the Year contest included the region's two largest
dailies, the ProJo had only one other competitor in the contest and it
wasn't the Boston Globe or Boston Herald.
The text of the Journal's house ad proclaims, "Only one can be the
best. And, it's not the Hartford Courant. It's not the Boston
Herald. It's not even the Boston Globe." The Globe and the
Herald, however, didn't enter the Newspaper of the Year contest in the
metro category. The only entrant besides the Journal was the
Courant, according to Bernard Caughey, a retired editor who works for
NENA as a part-time consultant.
Given the lack of more competition, the Journal's crowing about the
award strikes some industry observers as disingenuous. Joel Rawson, the
Journal's executive editor, declined comment through an assistant.
"It's a shame that the truth in advertising laws don't appear to apply to
this," says Guild administrator Tim Schick. "But in terms of journalism in
general, it's long been noted that this is a profession where people go around
giving each other awards, and this is another case in point. It's sort of begs
the question, what is the significance of the award if it's so easy to get?"
Members of the Providence Newspaper Guild, which is locked in an extended
battle with Journal management, had previously expressed incredulity
about the NENA recognition (see "Guild takes issue with NENA's plaudits for
paper," This just in, March 22), pointing what they see as a decline in quality
since the Dallas-based Belo Corporation bought the ProJo in 1997. Union
members protested at NENA's March 15 awards ceremony at the Omni Parker House
in Boston, hanging a banner and passing out fliers to those attending the
Ian Donnis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue Date: March 29 - April 4, 2002