Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A mayor fights back

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is doing something that traditionally mayors in the city don't do– he's commenting on an editorial published by the "Springfield Republican."

Normally mayors just to take it when the 'paper – known for its past habits of trying to be a kingmaker in this area – decides to spank them.

Sarno released a letter today that he sent to the 'paper criticizing them for asking him to step aside in the search for a new police commissioners.

Any reporter who has covered Sarno knows of his admiration for the police and the job they do. At the last Valley Press Club roast, Sarno was kidded for this use of the term "blue," and he took it all with a laugh.

Clearly he was not laughing today and that brings up the subject of how "The Republican" is perceived. Despite a billboard on I-91 that proudly proclaims that between the print and Web editions the 'paper is boasting of over 400,000 readers, the reality is that it has laid off reporters, cut the paper in size, and eliminated half of its daily opinion section as well as all of their business section.

No billboard can disguise the fact that this is a newspaper in severe trouble.

Sarno wasn't endorsed by the 'paper and several of his key press events were ignored by the 'paper. At this time one could say the mayor is easily more popular than the 'paper.

Since I work for a competing 'paper – a weekly – some might chalk up this observation as snarky criticism. That's not my intent. The Sarno letter is one indication of how weak the 'paper has become from a political point of view. I'm genuinely concerned if the city and the area can support a daily newspaper that can longer effectively do the job a daily newspaper can do.
©2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs