Providence's Alternative Source!

Paper faced scant competition for NENA recognition


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 event.

Ian Donnis can be reached at idonnis[a]

Issue Date: March 29 - April 4, 2002