Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
The Sun’s failure to cover the Revolving Museum’s ARTventure Series opening event Saturday night, May 12, which drew four to five hundred by my rough estimate, reveals that the paper still doesn’t get it.
Yes, the paper had a solid cover preview package in the previous Thursday’s Steppin’ Out section. But any event that draws hundreds of people downtown, especially on an unseasonably chilly Saturday night, is a significant news story.
I’ve been in the news business more than four decades, including four years as Sunday editor of The Sun, so I know a good story when I see one. And this one had everything: a outpouring of community effort, with close to a thousand volunteers creating scores of murals, art works, performances and, even, free cake. Plus, opportunities for more thrilling photos than a month of pet pages.
ARTventures joined Lowell’s ethnic, student, art and cultural communities for the first night of a summer of special events. The audience represented the full mosaic of the city, including the mayor and city manager.
Everybody was there, but The Sun.
The paper’s failure represents more than a one-time oversight. Its management has yet to fully realize that the survival and prospering of Lowell as a “destination city” depends on its art and cultural communities — its creative industries. If they don’t grow from where they are now, the city will whither, and so will The Sun.
What to do?
The Sun has a full-time business reporter, Tom Spoth, who’s one of the best on the staff. Similarly, it needs a full-time creative industries reporter.
I’m not talking about someone who previews arts events, reviews MRT productions and writes features about nude models, all of which is well handled by the Lifestyle and Metro staff.
The Sun needs someone who covers arts and culture as news — as business news, lifestyle news, metro news and front-page news. Someone who knows the difference between Impressionism and Expressionism, be-bop and boogie-woogie, someone who can read a cultural organization’s annual report and who understands the relationships between the arts, tourism, entertainment, business and politics. And someone who can generate stories the way Spoth does in business.
Obviously, the reporter needs a commitment from the editors, the publisher and The Sun’s chairman Kendall Wallace, a commitment of money and news hole.
I know some of the counter-arguments: Where’s the money coming from, and where’s the news hole? I’ve run newsroom budgets as big if not bigger than The Sun’s. The money’s there. So is the space. (Most of The Column’s endless take Sunday on Dracut’s city council could have been teased in the print paper and published on the Web, for example.) It just takes a commitment to do it.
So, chairman Wallace, publisher Mark O’Neil and editor James Campanini, it’s up to you. Do you cover what’s truly important to the future of Lowell, or do you limp along missing the big stories?
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