7.19.2005

Good times and bad for the Newton Tab

The Newton Tab (which also has an online version) has had good years and bad. In the early part of this decade, it was going through a particularly bad spell in terms of content and focus. Reporters concentrated on stories emanating from City Hall and the Police Department, and the only people quoted seemed to be officials, their spokespersons, and representatives of various community groups. I remember one issue that managed to quote the same person from the Newton Taxpayers' Association for three unrelated articles. Ordinary, unaffiliated residents were seldom profiled or interviewed, and staff didn't seem to dig very hard for interesting stories or angles.

Things have changed in the past year or two, however. I can honestly say that currently each section of the Tab is an interesting read. Reporters and editors seem to go out of their way to find interesting stories about the community. The issue from two weeks ago had a great story about Mayor Cohen's chances in the next election, the end of Ladder 6, and a profile of a West Newton resident who owns a DeLorean, and a crime story involving a drunken teen driver. There's more: articles on bicycle use, the Fourth of July celebrations, and an interesting arts section with a great story about Japanese horror films. Then there are the old standby sections: community happenings, the police log, obituaries, etc. And of course, a letters and op-ed section which is always full of a range of opinions about issues affecting Newton.

But the Tab is not perfect. There is an article in this issue which I thought was mean-spirited and unfair to the Republican candidate for mayor, Markham Lyons. The article, which I believe was written by Bernie Smith, contains maybe a paragraph or two on the man's political platform, and two full columns detailing the ugly details of a dispute Lyons has with his ex-landlord. Lyons comes off looking crazy, and readers learn nothing new about his goals if he is elected, or what he thinks of the policies of Mayor Cohen and other candidates for mayor. I am interested in seeing how other readers react to this article.

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