It seems new leadership has come to the Gloucester Daily Times, or as we like it call it here: “The Cape Ann Cane Shaker”. We’re hard on the Times here but only because it’s been terrible. Think we’re being too harsh? Take this little example:
Back in April there was really sweet coverage of Rockport High School inducting 19 new members into the National Honor Society. This is both great and swell. Huzzah to the Rockport students inducted, nice going, all that. Oh, and by the way: There were also 39 students of Gloucester High School inducted. Why am I not linking to this story? Can you guess why? BECAUSE THERE WAS NO FUCKING STORY. This is par for the course.
The Gloucester Daily Times has become, at best, an intermittent news source on topics, educational (where we have a particular passion) and otherwise. For most of the declared snow emergency this winter it bizarrely featured not much more than artisanal pizza recipes on the front page and we had to go to the awesome Korey Curcuru in his living room for actual information about the storms, the parking bans, the DPW’s movements and other information essential to surviving the unprecedented weather events.
Let that sink in: Our paper of record was scooped during a time of crisis on a daily basis by a dude with a webcam in his living room.
I could go on. And on. And on and on and on. The reporting is spotty at best. We regularly get requests here at The Clam to go in depth on actual news stories because folks don’t know what’s happening in regard to essential issues. I am loath to have to keep reminding this, but The Clam is a satire-based snarkblog and if you know the right passwords the Internet’s leading HR Puffenstuff erotic fiction hub. We are not Journalists. It shouldn’t be up to us, for instance, to be the only only outlet that has published the reports regarding the possible uses of the Fuller School.
All this having been said, we’re hoping for a better GDT. A fresh start, as it were. So here are The Clam’s top suggestions for an improved Gloucester Daily Times since the opportunity seems to have arisen. Understand that there are years of pent up frustration tapping the keyboard right now, so if it seems overly harsh we’re sorry. But holy crap, do we need to even go into the 1-800 number we were supposed to call to get updates on the Mayoral race a couple of years ago rather than use, oh I don’t know, some kind of instant electronic transfer of information that might be available to 90+% of MA. Households?
- Your website is a crime against humanity I’m sorry, but it is. It is the spammiest, most obnoxious, hard to navigate site I go to on a regular basis. It’s crowded, you can’t tell what’s ad and what’s content, it auto-opens a second page to offer me more adcrap (which no one does anymore) and there is all this auto-generated filler from who-knows-where that clutters up the page. I know it’s a nightmare to make money from news websites these days, but this is not the way.
- Stop it with the Fuller/#Benghazi bullshit This is a huge peeve. There’s a notable stream in the general conversation about Gloucester which boils down to: “nominally-informed yelling to no practical end.” The paper should not be contributing to this problem and the issue of the Fuller School is our leading nexus of same. We’ve covered it here. It’s gone way, way beyond the necessary evaluation of the management of Gloucester’s capital assets. It’s now a conspiracy theory mixed with an ancient grudge whisked into a batter of dumb and poured into the waffle iron of asshattery, served dry. The majority of us just want to know what’s next for Fuller, how can we best use it to the city’s advantage and don’t want to spend our time shoveling coal into the rage boilers. If nothing else, please read the reports by professional architects and engineers before writing any editorials. That would be a huge step forward.
- Every third LTE/editorial seems to be about how terrible technology is Oh man. Nothing demonstrates a “hip” and “with it” vibe to younger readers than columns and ceaseless editorials about how the so-called “smart” phones are making us all into drooling antisocial screen-zombies. There are weekly columns that sound like someone made Andy Rooney a key character in Blade Runner: “These flying cars everywhere make it so hard to fly kites and I don’t care for all these noisy replicants running around with the shooting and the yelling of ‘What is my incep date? How long do I live?’ How long till you shut up is more like it. Back in my day we didn’t have bio- soldiers and we fought wars on the Off World colonies the old fashioned way, with attack ships off of Orion…” OK, in retrospect that sounds totally awesome. But it’s lame as balls in the Gloucester Daily Times, take my word for it. Make your regular columnists stop doing this, I beg you.
- Math matters The current GDT has a numeric allergy. There is, for instance, a regular call from the editorial page to consolidate the elementary schools into one mega school for ‘savings.’ How much savings? What kind of outcomes should we expect? Hellooooo? Anybody in there? We see this all the time. Someone saying the schools have too many administrators. Do we? What’s the typical ratio for school districts like ours, especially ones that have outcomes we want to emulate? How are they structured? Differently? The same? It’s hard work, requires looking things up on the Internet and making calls but that is sort of the job. Even political races, which are inherently mathematical, have had no reporting of hard numbers or percentages. Microsoft Word has a table function. It would be awesome if you guys would use it.
- Very few people actually fish I know this seems weird to say, but the vast majority of people in Gloucester and especially on Cape Ann, do not. The industry is clearly a core issue, it’s our historical basis for being here, but sadly there are only a few hundred families that still make their living from the sea. My brother has been working on shellfish draggers for most of his working years (He’s moving to New Bedford if anybody knows a boat that needs a competent crew member, btw) and I know the life, but still: Most of the people here do not fish.
- Gloucester education is about more than sports Oh man, if I had to drink every time I saw a front page that featured an educational achievement by Rockport of Manchester/Essex students and an athletic one by Gloucester students…wait. I actually do that. Saturday we had a demonstration of amazing robotics, drones, 3D printers, artwork, song, drama, music and all kinds of stuff. Here is the front page of the GDT:
There was a GDT photographer there, but the story is for some reason buried in the “News” section and third over in the slideshow up above, but even there the reference photo is not awesome robots but a mom (an awesome mom, by the way Hi Laurel!) and no clear image of Gloucester students who designed, coded and built all this tech without the reader having to go dig for it. But plain as day is Rockport’s honor roll. Way to go Rockport! You guys are awesome! What do you have for 3D printers over there? You have one of ours you borrowed? Oh…cool. Guess that didn’t make the papers.
- We don’t really care about what goes on in Danvers, Beverly, Salem, Newburyport or effing Haverhill This is the last point, but if this consolidation is supposed to combine content from Salem, Beverly and Gloucester, don’t bother. A few years ago we got tons of stories from the Merrimack Valley which is like telling the hill tribespeople of Papua new Guinea about the Winnipeg public bus system. Simply, no one gives a shit.
So that’s it. Remember what Menken said about newspapers, that they are to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Good luck!
Thank you for affirming what I have thought about the GDTimes for years. Also for the tip on The Bridge.
With substantive education and experience as a marine scientist, I am constantly amazed that every day, or nearly every day, the front page of the GDT bashes on marine scientists. NOAA, NMF, MDMF. I have worked with a lot of these people, and they are not morons, and they take their careers seriously. Some of us call this reporting “Biased.” Some say just plain old “yellow journalism.” Whatever. Just sayin’ maybe they could report both sides of the issues someday?
This is another huge issue and we could maybe do a “part 2” leading with this. IT’s a widespread problem. I actually heard a candidate for city council, an otherwise reasonable dude, talk about process and how he’s into following “process.” Then he proceeded to throw out every bit of marine science when asked about the fishing industry. Because science is not a process? Oy.
It’s not about real news, guys. In a town full of truck-nut wearing fishermen it’s about pandering. And how to we pander to these? Sports and NOAA Bashing. They’d do just as well to have every days headline read “FREE BEER tomorrow”.
While you’re not Journalists per se, Jim, I’d say you stepped right on a point: You all write well enough to be, and there’s room for a small weekly here.
They do report both sides. You might want to check to see if in some cases the amount of reporting on the “other side” of a story is inversely proportional to its credibility.
The GDT web experience is THE WORST. They make the Weather Channel’s website downright enjoyable, and all their clickbait margin content is about horrific accidents happening to newlyweds and grotesque diseases overwhelming toddlers, so now I’m depressed when all I wanted was to find out if it’d hit 70 this afternoon.
An 8-paragraph “article” spread across three pages, with the final one only containing the byline & author’s contact info? Check.
A 5-page limit on free content that counts as well as my 10 month old? Check.
Articles dating back to 2000, re-posted in 2008, and still featured on the home page? (I get it, they filmed a movie here 15 years ago… that certainly hasn’t happened dozens of time since.) Check.
And oh my goodness the pop-under full page ads? Seriously?
At least the fixed the slideshow so it doesn’t open each article when you’re just trying to scroll through the pictures.
I feel bad whenever I’m walking down Main Street and see one of the paperboys trying to hawk GDTs outside Sugar Mags. “Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you, Kid.”
Sadly, I must agree with most of what you have said, although I don’t access GDT on the web. However, I continue to receive home delivery because I feel compelled to support my local paper. Maybe this post will shake ’em up.
The GDT could learn a thing or two from the Gillnetter’s website. Take a look at thegillnetter.com.
I’m aware that the ads are too much, but the disrespectful tone and half-truth reporting cause a lot of needless pain. As does the thoughtless posting of upside down pictures in the obituary section. The thing is, editing for correct content, regaining clarity and being local (Market Basket reports last summer from Haverhill stores?) are simply high school journalism’s first lessons. Kudos to the GHS paper, therefore!
It wasn’t Mencken. It was “Mr. Dooley,” a creation of Finley Peter Dunne.
My partner only maintains home delivery because she and her students and family members are in the paper so regularly. I’ve taken to calling it the “Daily Skew” for years, since every time there’s an Op Ed it’s Gordon again. Yea I like Gordon: Could we have a paragraph or two from someone NOT owning a castle in “East Gloucester by the “Keep Out’ signs”?
Maybe I’m asleep at the switch, but what changes are there? I don’t see anything about them on the GDT “website,” but maybe that proves your point. New editor, perhaps?