A headline in the acknowledged "newspaper of record" caught my eye yesterday. The headline said Westfield was changing its rules on selling and serving alcoholic beverages. But when I clicked on it, the so-called news article was three sentences, none of which explained what the changes were.
First I tried the local weekly, but it required a subscription. I only wanted to read the one article, because Plainfield will be working on its own liquor license renewal process in June and I was curious to know what kind of changes were approved in Westfield. But I did not want to subscribe.
I put in some keywords and found another article with a bit more information, posted by a well-known online news outlet that concentrates on mostly affluent suburban towns. To my surprise, that one was quoting another source, also an online "hometown news" outlet.
That last one was a comprehensive news story that made the big daily's report look like a kindergarten scribble.
It was a lesson to me to see how news gathering has changed, from the days when the "newspaper of record" set the standard for the industry. True, their article had been picked up from one of their own subsidiaries, but it would not have made it past the copy desk in another time. The citizen reader who wants to know more about local government actions is at a distinct disadvantage when snippets pass for news in major dailies.