That Time The Local Media Got Caught Off Guard By A Pizza Place

Papa Gino's is a big deal in New England, but not in the pages of the region's paper of record.

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Photo of Papa Gno's in Worcester by jbers/flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjbers/42241927300). Used under a Creative Commons license.
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Yes, we’re really going to talk about business journalism on Election Day.

The Boston Globe — and most other local media — got caught off guard over the weekend when Papa Gino’s, the local pizza chain of record, abruptly shut 95 stores as a precursor for filing for bankruptcy. Thousands of people lost their jobs and restaurants that had been neighborhood fixtures for decades were suddenly gone. Landlords were suddenly without tenants and, we eventually learned, the financial problems were brought on in large part by increased minimum wage.

In others words, this is a big deal in these parts. And it’s the type of story with lots of layers.

In the dead tree version of Monday’s Boston Globe, a full 24 hours after news started spreading on social media, the story was covered with an Associated Press news brief. It wasn’t until Tuesday readers got a staff-written story on Papa Gino’s, but it was single-sourced and read more like a first-day story.

Business desks always get the shaft in newsrooms, and it has never made much sense since business is the one area in which all of us participate daily. But at the Globe, the drop off in quality, depth and quantity of coverage has been particularly bad. Sunday’s editions of the Globe were the first to not have a stand-alone business section; the Sunday business section is now folded into Metro.

While Scott Kirsner and Hiawatha Bray are still writing their mostly-decent columns, the reporting side of the desk has been decimated. Anyone with any talent for business journalism seems to have fled for greener pastures in recent years. That has left the day-in and day-out business news coverage to a cast of misfits who are likely being punished or have been deemed “not good enough for metro” by the Globe higherups.

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