providence journal

Richard Walton was an unforgettable presence for decades in our cozy state. An activist, he was in the forefront of so many campaigns for social justice and peace during his 84 years on this earth that even his friends couldn’t do a full accounting. A graduate of Brown in the 1950s, at a time when most of his WASP classmates went into banking, law or joined the CIA, Richard took the path less traveled. He became a reporter for the Providence Journal, then worked in New York newspapering during the Golden Age of print journalism.

From the eagle eye of WPRI’s premier blogger, Ted Nesi, comes word that won’t surprise any regular reader of the Providence Journal, Rhode Island’s flagship newspaper. The once robust news outlet continues to hemorrhage readers, which inevitably leads to a drop in advertising as businesses find other ways to reach customers.

Happy Friday and welcome back. Your tips and thoughts are always appreciated in my inbox at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's dive in.

More changes at the Providence Journal as Paul Tooher, the night managing editor, retires. There is an old newspaper chestnut that every young reporter learns quickly: There is always somebody in the newsroom smarter than you are. The other is if your mother tells you she loves you check it out.

Tom Heslin, who oversaw the Providence Journal's Pulitzer-prize winning probe of the state court system in the 1990s, is retiring later this month as executive editor, the paper reports. The move comes after a long and distinguished career encompassing the Journal's glory days.

Heslin, 62, had been on an extended leave of absence for health reasons.

Bob Whitcomb, the ProJo’s witty and intellectual editorial page editor, who is 65, will be stepping down in at  the usual  retirement age for top executives at the newspaper.

Whitcomb does a fine job for many reasons, not the least of which is the wide variety of opinion and subjects that grace the editorial and op-ed pages every day. He is one of those rare ProJo people with a wide background in newspaper editing and reporting; he even served as an editor in Paris with the International Herald Tribune.

Ernest Hemingway's storied retort to F. Scott Fitzgerald about why the rich are different -- because they have more money -- comes to mind in surveying some news involving the Providence Journal.

As Ted Nesi notes, executives with ProJo parent A.H. Belo are hardly suffering amid the ongoing certainty facing the newspaper industry:

If you really need another good reason to support your local NPR affiliate, we bring you the latest report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism: The State of the News Media 2013.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who watches local television in this or just any market across the nation, but there is more junk food-journalism on local TeeVee news than ever.

Welcome back to my Friday column. (Sorry to miss you last week; there was a little snow, as you might have heard.) Your thoughts and email are welcome, as always, at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

The Providence Journal is losing its excellent education reporter, Jennifer Jordan, who's leaving for a job at an education and economic mobility advocacy group.

Jordan writes in an email to friends and colleagues that she will be a senior writer at Opportunity Nation, a Boston-based coalition of non-profits. The organization's website describes its focus as expanding opportunities for residents of low-income neighborhoods, and fighting the "zip code is destiny" mentality.