News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

Not everything bad under the Sun

Despite an out-of-left-field attack on me in today’s “Chat” by Kendall Wallace, good friend and staunch ally of  LHS Headmaster Bill Samaras as well as chairman of the Sun board,  I’m sticking with my compliment regarding recent changes to the paper. Yesterday I visited Jim Campanini, the managing editor of the Sun—a man known to dish out his own criticism with wild abandon while also taking his share of written abuse, particularly in the blogs.  LiL can be especially harsh, so can Dick Howe on his blog, and I’ve certainly written a litany of critiques. One thing about Campy, no matter how pointed my criticism, he always gave me ink in the paper when I asked for it. (For a review of my past letters to the editor, check out the Published Articles page; here is a recent one.)  When Campanini greeted me outside his office yesterday morning, I held out a small bag and announced:  “I baked you muffins because I heard it would get me good press!” Someone laughed behind me, but Campy’s face froze. “It was a joke,” I said. “I’m kidding.” He retorted, “So, you believe what you read in the blogs!? Where’s the gown?”

Along with being critical, I like to give credit when it’s due, and I have noticed a marked improvement in the paper’s substance and coverage of local issues over the past several months.  For instance, instead of running one story after a school committee meeting (usually the most controversial), the Sun now publishes several stories over the week, or the paper will run an additional article that gives a synopsis of other issues discussed at the meeting. Providing this space to inform readers about issues in the schools is an important community service. The paper’s enhanced coverage has included more substantive articles on other local issues as well, such as the vocational school and city council concerns. I had noticed the change and wanted to let him know I appreciated it. He accepted my praise graciously. We then went on to have a heated debate on various topics, school related and otherwise, as we both tend to vent our opinions stridently and seldom agree. (The lowfat, high-fiber muffins remained uneaten.) Despite better local news coverage, however, I suspect the slurs from Mr. Wallace will continue as long as I keep pushing for improvements at the high school, which, by the way, is nothing personal against his dear old friend, but simply the job I was elected to do.

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