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Updated: May 13, 2024 Editorial

Editorial: The T&G is still the one

The cover story package for the May 13 print edition of WBJ entitled “The new Worcester media” dives deep into the changes in the Central Massachusetts media scene. As a local media company, it’s a challenge to achieve an arms-length assessment of the state of the industry when Worcester Business Journal is a member of that very group we’re reporting on. We’ve done our best to do so.

Looking back a decade – or two or three – the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has been the 800-pound gorilla in the regional media ring. Back in the day, to own the daily newspaper of record was a formula for printing money. When daily circulation topped 100,000, and the Sunday edition was more than 150,000, maintaining a large staff with news bureaus in Fitchburg, the Blackstone Valley, and other regions throughout Worcester County was all part of the winning formula. But fast forward, and the fat classified section chock full of help-wanted ads and multiple full-page ads from major retailers and car dealers have for the most part gone online, hollowing out the cash cow for daily papers throughout the country.

While the New York Times, as a national newspaper, has been able to generate millions of paid subscribers, in large part replacing the steep decline in print advertising, that has not been the case for the vast majority of dailies throughout the country. The decline in reporters and editors impacting the T&G are mirrored throughout the country. It’s a long-held tradition to complain about your local paper, but those organizations play a critical role in not only reporting the news, but holding public entities accountable. The increase in small, entrepreneurial efforts to fill those gaps in coverage have produced a variety of voices, singing from many different song sheets. However, none of them carry the weight or impact of the newspaper of record. Even a reduced T&G – our story reports it has about 20 journalists on staff these days – far outweighs the next closest media organization, which is Spectrum News 1 with seven its local news staffers.

The Telegram & Gazette continues to do important work with a staff of highly productive journalists. While new voices can help fill in some of the gaps in coverage opened up over the years, there is no one even close to matching the sheer volume of the T&G’s coverage. It's easy to complain about private equity ownership of a large swath of the media, but those reporters on the ground in our community deserve our respect and appreciation. Here is hoping they can stabilize operations and be profitable with today’s business model, and not face further cuts to their editorial resources.

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