Someone Tell The Herald There Are Elections Today

The tabloid misses an opportunity by ignoring local politics.

By | Boston Daily |

I realize it might seem silly to criticize the Boston Herald for abdicating its duty to cover local politics, as if the tabloid cares about such things as its civic duty anymore, but the demise of its interest really is remarkable.

Today, a portion of the city goes to the polls, in two special elections. If you are a Herald reader, you can be forgiven for not knowing this.

The Back Bay and Beacon Hill, along with parts of Cambridge, elect a new state representative today. (It’s the Democratic primary, but even if the Republican write-in candidate succeeds in getting on the general-election ballot, today’s Democratic winner will win easily.) OK, the political earth won’t exactly quake at the outcome of such a race, but it’s a very competitive contest right in the heart of the city for a significant office. Given the extremis with which the Herald treats every misdeed by a member of the state legislature, you would think that they would care at least a little.

The Herald did not report once on the special election, until a paragraph today at the bottom of an item on the other race. The only mention Joshua Dawson and Jay Livingstone had previously received there was a brief mention, in an Associated Press piece on the marathon bombing, that the two were suspending their campaigns.

Treatment of the far bigger 1st Suffolk state has been even more embarrassing. After a couple of early articles and columns, the Herald went completely dark for the final month leading up to the primary. Then, when results showed that Linda Dorcena Forry of Dorchester had beaten the paper’s preferred candidate, Nick Collins of South Boston, the paper unleashed a couple of angry and mystified pieces — and then proceeded to completely ignore it again, until today’s quick day-of piece. (Which amusingly did not quote Forry because she “could not be reached immediately for comment,” as if the existence of today’s election was a fast-breaking on-deadline event.) A search of the Herald site shows no prior mention of poor Republican candidate Joseph Ureneck since the immediate post-primary ‘oh and by the way Forry will face…’ mention.

The Boston Globe, with its far greater reporting resources, hasn’t exactly been a great source on those elections either. But it did at least provide a couple of good pieces, in addition to its editorial endorsements. And — although some of us would like the paper to do better with its coverage of city politics –the broadsheet is in fact a regional paper whose obligations of coverage run far beyond Southie and the Back Bay.

Of course, it is exactly that aspect of the Globe that provides an opening to its more locally-focused competitor. It would have been quite easy for the Herald to beat the Globe on reporting these elections, and show the residents that, when it comes to their own neighborhood politics, it’s the tabloid that has them covered. Instead, the Herald sent a clear message that it has checked out of  neighborhood politics entirely.