, Gloucester, MA


January 7, 2012

The role of timing in this week's AGH hearing coverage

One story got more play than virtually any other on the pages of the Times and on this week.

And that might have seemed odd, given that the entire story revolved around a single, Thursday night meeting.

But our coverage of Thursday night's state Department of Public Health hearing regarding the planned joining of forces between Lahey Clinic and Northeast Health System — with Addison Gilbert Hospital, of course — carried from Tuesday's Times right through this morning's (see news story, Page 1).

And while it's hard to argue there were many stories more significant for Cape Ann and its people, that might seem excessive.

Did this hearing and story really merit that level of coverage? Why, you might ask, would your community's newspaper do that?

First, yes, we thought the hearing was worth the attention it got as it played out both on Page 1 and on our Opinion page.

The state Department of Public Health is, after all, one of three entities that can approve the Northeast-Lahey deal, require conditions for it, or, if it somehow came to that, reject the whole deal. And Thursday's hearing was the public's first chance to make their feelings known directly to those who will make those decisions.

It was in that vein, then, that we felt the need to let readers not privy to activists' email lists to know about the hearing, so they would have enough time to go and speak. So we began the week's references to it with a Monday editorial urging residents to attend, then followed with a major Page 1 advance in Wednesday's Times — noting that Peggy O'Malley and her Partners for Addison Gilbert group were organizing a push to stand up for AGH, and that they, too, were encouraging others to do the same. The Opinion page also included letters outlining the concerns for AGH's future, and also noting the Thursday hearing.

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