One magazine that doesn’t seem to get a lot of love from Rhode Island’s journalism establishment is Rhode Island Monthly. Yet, sprinkled among the foodie features, glossy BMW ads and Sotheby’s promos for Newport millionaire mansions is some fine work.
Every month seems to bring at least one serious piece bound to jolt a reader away from that inevitable RIM featch, the search for the perfect clam cake or the best burger in West Bay. In my humble household, the most awaited issue is the annual `top doctor, best brunch’ edition. It warms my heart to no end if my spouse, Dr. Staci Fischer, makes the best doctor list and has her name listed next to Best Brunch in East Bay.
Seriously, RIM does some very good stuff. The current issue (November, with the Best Burgers cover) has an insightful profile on Jack Reed by old friend Susie Milligan, a longtime mainstay of the Boston Globe’s Washington bureau. Milligan doesn’t break any startlingly new ground, but her Washington experience and gravitas led her to get telling remarks from such insiders as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who obviously has a high regard for Reed. Milligan also has a fine grasp of such issues as the history of the Senate filibuster. Reed comes off as the political figure Rhode Islanders have come to know: a hard worker and inside player who eschews the raw headline hunting and live shot lust that plague so many others in Congress.
Milligan’s piece got me to thinking about other RIM pieces over the past few years that have been must-reads. Off the top of my head, I can think of more than a few. In 2010, RIM shocked the world of political journalism in Rhode Island by breaking the story that Congressman Patrick Kennedy was not running for reelection. Mark Arsenault, a former ProJo scribe now at the Globe, got that huge scoop.
Other fine pieces include Mary Grady’s story about the neglect of that urban jewel, Roger Williams Park. Elizabeth Rau won a Metcalf Award for her article that got behind the headlines to the students at Central Falls High School. Brian Jones had a nice feature on Billy Goode’s, an iconic Newport watering hole that has been a favorite of quaffing locals since Prohibition. Bob Wyss had a very good profile of Providence College basketball coach Ed Cooley, the Providence native who is the first African-American coach in Friar hoop history. Pippa Jack wrote a telling profile of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, the capital city’s first Latino mayor. A Patrick O’Connor piece took readers to Ed Shea and the 2nd Story Theater in Warren, one of our state’s great theaters. Channel 10 veteran Jim Taricani has done a number of good pieces for RIM over the years; his latest on state Atty. Gen. Peter Kilmartin was a wonderful read. And Ellen Liberman’s monthly CityState: Reporter pieces are always worth it.
So in between gawking at the local swells preening at the Preservation Society of Newport County’s latest bash and your all-important quest for the perfect holiday table display or the ultimate spa slim down treatment, make sure to take in the interesting and informative journalism at RIM.