Friday, April 27, 2007

It's becoming clearer: The Hippo is abandoning Concord

On Wednesday, I posted this entry about the possible demise of the Concord edition of The Hippo: ["Is The Hippo ending its Concord edition?"].
There hasn't been any response to the piece from the parties involved but I know some have seen the article online. However, the past few weeks, editions which have been dropped in Concord were the same as ones dropped in Manch. And after taking a quick gander through the latest issue, released on Thursday, it is becoming clearer that this speculation may be dead-on correct.
The latest issue, which I picked up on Warren Street in downtown Concord, has a Publisher's Note by Jody Reese - not Dan Szczesny - who had previously been writing the Concord editorials. The edition is a hefty 71 pages. This is impressive when you consider this is New Hampshire and the newspaper is primarily covering news and culture, with heavy emphasis on arts frequented by a younger audience. Three reporters remain, according to the staff listings, although this week, Lisa Brown's contribution was limited to a quarter page of news briefs about Manch and an article about treasure-hunting with your GPS. She was previously the Concord reporter. There is virtually no Concord news or content to speak of, although most of the ads based out of the Concord area remain [lumped together on Page 8 and 9].
Associate Publisher Jeff Rapsis has a very good cover story on the state of classical music in New Hampshire entitled "Fight at the opera" which is worthy of posting. Since I got to know most of these cats when I hosted a daily arts program for a local radio station, it is good to see that their story is getting out there.

In other local media news ...
* Congratulations to Concord Monitor Editor Mike Pride for being named the co-chairman of the Pulitizer Prize Board, the group which hands out the best in journalism awards: ["'Monitor' editor chair Pulitizers"]. After reading the article, it's amazing the guy has any kind of life. Between editing the newspaper, blogging, and reading all the books and entries he has to read, it is amazing he can keep his sanity.

* Rick Watrous has this letter in the Monitor challenging the newspaper to do more investigative reporting: ["Cut the fluff; give us a series on the city budget"].

"There are important local stories ripe for reporting. Sunday's Viewpoints featured a letter about city council conflicts of interests and the lack of a council ethics code. I and others have raised similar questions about questionable behavior in Concord city government. The Monitor should live up to the "civic duty" Pride mentions and investigate such stories."
Watrous makes a good point, especially when eyeing some of the fluffier pieces in the newspaper and some of the major things which get ignored, for whatever reason. Here is the column, written by Pride, which Watrous alludes to: ["Without newspapers, would we know?"].

* After 35 years, Gardner Hill, the host of "Coffee Chat," aired his last program on a local radio station here in Concord. Hill doesn't know what he is going to do now that he is out of work but he is keeping his options open. Many of us grew up listening to Gardner on the radio and it is amazing that he has had such a long, fruitful run. Best of luck to ya, Gard!

* Next week, the Union Leader will launch a new online bidding system at its Web site, The system is called Ubid-Ubuy, and seems to be modeled after eBay. Similar programs offered by some area radio stations have bombed. But as newspapers look for new forms of revenue, it doesn't hurt to try something.

* Walter Alarkon, a reporter at the Monitor, has an interesting piece about presidential candidates visiting the area and utilizing some radio stations in the Granite State to reach out to voters: ["Small stations, big-time guest"].
The article is good. But I found it strange that a certain local radio station in Concord, which has covered hundreds of presidential campaign events over the last two-plus years and has a Web site with downloadable mp3s of all kinds of 2008 presidential campaign audio, was completely ignored in the article. The slight was pretty prominent and noticed by more than a few of us out here in the hustings.
I called Alarkon to get a bit of background about the story. He said that he spoke with some people at Concord's only commercial station but they weren't included in the article. The focus was about small radio stations which have political or opinion talk shows on the air, not news stations, he said. Since the station didn't broadcast political or opinion shows, it wasn't included in the article, he said.
To the non-trained eye, this all seems pretty logical. But for those of us who have worked in the media, it really seems as though other hands may have had a role in the story. I mean, why include anything about radio stations in Keene or New London which can't even be picked up in the reading area of the Monitor?
In the end, the article wasn't as good as it could have been because important local information was kept out of the story.

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