As Journalists Adapt Overtime, So Must Their Profession
Interview conducted February 2009
BOSTON – It has been an understandably hard time for newspapers the past few years. Revenue is slipping, circulation has decreased, and the internet continues to threaten the very business model the industry has thrived on since its inception.
While the dire situation may just be gaining the attention of mainstream America, it's a familiar scenario to those working in emptier newsrooms. This is the harsh reality at some of the industry's most prestigious papers.
The Boston Globe staff has suffered four layoffs since the start of 2001 and new plans are currently underway to cut 50 of the remaining 379 full-time reporters.
Though many face the prospect of receiving a pink slip, those lucky enough to survive push forward with a shared dedication to upholding the integrity of journalism. Marcella Bombardieri, a Globe staffer, is fighting that cause.
“The great thing about journalism is that you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself as a writer,” Bombardieri said, and it's a motto she has followed when shaping her own career as a reporter.
Through her nine years of service at The Boston Globe, Bombardieri has lent her skills to a variety of beats from higher education to healthcare.
Bombardieri found her journalistic niche in college while investigating an on-campus housing scandal. It appeared the university’s hockey team was receiving preferential treatment during housing selection. When multiple phone calls to the players and coaching staff went ignored, her fervor for finding the truth was ignited.
The drive for accuracy is what makes Bombardieri’s news pieces so imperative to the current news market. Whether covering the rising cost of tuition or trailing political campaigns, she hopes her work encourages readers to react.
Since joining the Boston Globe’s coveted Spotlight Investigative Team one year ago her goals have been exceeded. Since her recruitment, Bombardieri has heard her share of dial tones in search of the truth.
One of her most prestigious works, written alongside Scott Allen, detailed the imbalanced payout practices between health insurance companies and partnering hospitals. The article proved so eye-opening that it prompted Gov. Deval Patrick to arrange a meeting on health care issues addressed in the investigation.
"Any action to fix what’s wrong,” she said, “is what I find most rewarding."
As budget cuts continue to send fellow colleagues home and more readers turn to an endless crop of blogs littering the internet Bombardieri remains hopeful for the future of the Spotlight Team.
“The Boston Globe has shown they are devoted to the Spotlight Investigative Team and that it is a priority,” she said. “But since it is inevitable that papers are shrinking and more beat reporters are unavailable, it allows fewer people the opportunity to work on [the Team].”
Bombardieri is wary, however, that continuing budget cuts will deny current and future journalists the luxury of travel.
Thus far in her career Bombardieri has completed reports in Afghanistan, Iraq, and traveled extensively throughout the United States to cover Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
Bombardieri knew poll stats alone wouldn’t make for interesting political reports so she’d visit various Clinton rallies to collect observations and quotes from supporters. Key elements, Bombardieri noted, that would have been virtually impossible to obtain had she not attended in person.
With her past experience in the field, Bombardieri believes that being on location, domestic or abroad, is essential for any news piece to accurately inform.
“The lack of travel is changing the very circumstances of reporting,” she stated. “When you’re not there you lose the authenticity of that story.”
These changes are increasingly evident as wire services gain an unprecedented dominance in print journalism. The Boston Globe, for instance, obtains an overwhelming amount of its international coverage via Reuters and the Associated Press.
“You need to be out there to get the feel,” Bombardieri said, concluding that the use of wire services will only make the news more generic.
It is with this care and concern that marks the importance of Bombardieri’s work as a professional reporter. She’s thoughtful in her execution and is adept at morphing simple news pieces into true journalistic masterpieces.
Some may call her a perfectionist but Bombardieri is just doing her job. And in a time when the future of journalism is uncertain, she delights in helping set the standard for generations of journalists who will follow in her spotlight.