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Local newspapers aren't dying. They're dead.

Local newspapers aren’t dying. They’re dead.
The Newton Tab, Needham Times and Watertown Tab & Press will stop publishing in May, their parent company Gannett quietly announced yesterday.
The changes are part of a sweeping series of soon-to-be-former papers across Massachusetts, including the Brookline Tab and Waltham News Tribune.

It’s not clear, if Gannett is stopping the presses on the printed Wellesley Townsman too.

Gannett announced the decision in separate online announcements on each of its respective Wicked Local website, saying they would continue in online form only.
Ironically the announcements are behind paywalls (and, at least yesterday, not in the printed Newton Tab) so print-only readers may never know what happened.

“The [name of paper here] will continue to report on the news readers need and want,” each of the cookie-cutter Gannett statements read. “But it will no longer arrive at the end of your driveway or in your mailbox once a week.”
But the truth is none of the papers covering our four chamber communities have had much local news in them for quite some time. 
Yesterday’s Newton Tab, for example, contained just one obituary: It was for a woman from Georgia who had no apparent connection to Newton, or even Massachusetts.

Gannett has not had a reporter dedicated to covering Watertown for years. Newton, Needham and Wellesley each have had one dedicated FTE.
Media watchdog Dan Kennedy recently reported that Gannett was going to be reassigning nearly all of its local reports to regional news beats, so this may be another step in that cost cutting process.
And yes, Gannett (and GateHouse Media before that) has already weaned us off of expecting much news in our local newspapers. But certainly, this is the end of an era for these once-proud publications, which have a long, often feisty, history of "relentlessly local" service to our communities.
The Newton and Brookline TABs (which is where my career began) were founded in 1979 but are also is the result of a merger with the old Newton Graphic, which dates back to 1882.
The Needham Times goes back to 1932 and merged with the Needham Tab in 2001.
And then there’s Watertown Tab & Press, dating back to the old Watertown Press, first published in 1870. After merging with the Watertown Sun, (its slogan was “Always Boosting Watertown’s Industries”) it rebranded in 1985.
Over the decades, over the centuries, over many generations, these papers have been documenting the people, the businesses and the decisions that have made our communities what they are today.
And in a few weeks, they'll all be gone.
Spring is in the air. Outdoor dining too!
Crocuses are a sure sign that spring is coming. 
And so is the arrival of those concreate barriers to accommodate outdoor dining.
Newton’s outdoor dining season officially begins April 1 and DPW crews will be installing barriers for dining parklets in Newton Centre starting tomorrow.
Restaurants interested in offering outdoor dining in the public spaces can learn how here and apply here. 
In Wellesley, restaurants no longer need a special permit to offer outdoor dining on private property but must still submit an application to the Select Board. Zoning bylaw changes for dining in business and commercial districts were approved by the Attorney General's office this month. In general, outdoor dining in Wellesley resumes in April after Marathon Monday. 
Next door in Waltham, the city’s traffic commission is meeting today to consider once again closing Moody Street to outdoor dining – all the more reason for our local restaurants to make plans now to offer outdoor service. 
A statewide extension of outdoor dining was passed in the House and is expected to pass in the Senate next week and most likely will extend to April 2023. The legislation would streamline the process for restaurants in all our communities.
Newton to discuss regulating building energy use
Newton’s City Council will hear a presentation Monday about a proposal to adopt a program that monitors and eventually regulates energy use at large non-residential properties, labs and campuses, similar to Boston's BERDO program.
That same night the council will vote on a home rule petition seeking permission from Beacon Hill to block (except as an emergency backup) the use of fossil fuels -- including cooking -- in all new and “substantially renovated” homes and non-residential buildings under 20,000 square feet.
New leadership at Price Center
Lou MacDonald, president and CEO of the Barry L. Price Center is retiring in June. He’ll be replaced by Dr. Madeline Aviles-Hernandez, who is currently COO at the center, which works with individuals with intellectual and developmental differences.
Reminder to our members
Our online member directory gets thousands of hits each month. It's the first place I turn when asked to make a member referral.
But like most things in life, what you get out of your member listing depends on what you put into it.
Take a minute today to see how your business or nonprofit appears to others by searching for your business here. Then watch this short video to learn how you can update your profile to enhance your visibility.
If you have any questions or need help getting started, call or email Maxime at 617-244-5300 ext. 1004.
Learn about other ways to get the most out of your membership join us next Weds at noon for Maximizing Your Chamber Membership. Scroll down to register.

We're going to need more
Need to be reminded why we need to allow more apartments and multi-family units in our west suburban communities?
How about why we must insist our municipalities abide by the MBTA Communities Law
Check out the asking rent chart accompanying the article by Catherine Carlock in the Globe this week.
Asking rent levels across the region have rebounded from the lows of the pandemic to an all-time high, rising 11 percent in the last quarter of 2021 from a year prior, according to Colliers. That's the largest gain in 20 years.
Meanwhile the median cost of a house in the Boston area hit $755,000 in February -- a16.7 percent jump. Listings plunged 32 percent in February, writes Contrarian Boston.
If we’re going to remain competitive, if we’re going to welcome young workers and diverse families to our communities, if going to avoid gridlock and combat carbon emissions, we need to build more housing of every type.
That's Need to Knows for today -- St. Patrick's Day -- unless you need to know why many introverts dread returning to the office but others can't wait.
Be back in your inbox tomorrow.
Greg Reibman (he, him)
Charles River Regional Chamber

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