EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 12, 2014

Column: Local newspapers are key to good journalism — Just ask Rachel Maddow


That series, written with David Joyner and others, appeared in The Eagle-Tribune, The Salem News, The Daily News of Newburyport and the Gloucester Daily Times.

The “Bridgegate” story first attracted the attention of the Record when it became clear there was something fishy about the nightmarish traffic jams that for days afflicted Fort Lee, at the foot of the George Washington Bridge.

Boburg’s beat at The Record is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge.

“As you know, the official line in the beginning was that this was a traffic study,” Boburg told Maddow. “But the more we asked questions the more things didn’t quite measure up.”

That’s what good reporters do: ask questions and keep asking them when the answers don’t make sense.

Last week, after a “relentless” pursuit of public documents over several months, Boburg wrote a story based on some of those documents.

They showed that officials in Christie’s administration orchestrated the gridlock by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against the mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to endorse Christie’s re-election.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” one official emailed Christie’s man on the Port Authority.

Christie at first laughed off the growing scandal, mocking reporters like Boburg who dared question him. But he was forced into a humiliating press conference last week in an attempt to salvage his hopes for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Shawn was and is a terrific reporter. He’s one of many who have worked for or continue to work for The Eagle-Tribune and our sister papers. We’re proud of them.

They do great and important work, as do countless journalists for hundreds of community newspapers like ours. Without their work, many, many stories would never see the light of day.

It’s nice to see that recognized. So, thank you, Rachel Maddow.

Al White is editor of The Eagle-Tribune.

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