Mike Anderson’s American Iron

Mike Untitled 1Extra! Extra! Read All About It

By Mike Anderson

The headline was smart and catchy. Although I most certainly rolled my eyes, the typical response of trade press editors when our mainstream media cousins stretch their toes onto “our” turf, my eyes quickly refocused on the headline . . . and the tremendous coverage that followed it.

“‘Paved with gold,’ but low on cash” proclaimed the banner headline of the New Hampshire Sunday News, exactly one week before Christmas. Yeah right, I immediately thought, just another state barking up the Charlie Brown-like federal highway funding tree – fitting, at least, considering the season.

And while the focus of the banner story was on how the massive Interstate 93 widening/expansion from the Massachusetts line to Manchester could shut down in a few years if Congress cuts spending and New Hampshire can’t fill the shortfall, the coverage that accompanied it was among the most in-depth, well-rounded, informative we’ve seen in a long, long time. Much of the front page of the broadsheet Sunday News – the Sunday edition of the New Hampshire Union Leader – was devoted to the I-93 issue, as was the majority of five pages inside. Nine major stories, covering everything from construction plans and future economic spinoffs to kudos for equipment operators on site and even a commuter’s perspective, were complemented by strong photography and, most impressively, a massive map-like graphic on the front page that used bullet points to highlight the project’s accomplishments and future objectives at each of Exits 1-5 and a few miles beyond to Manchester. The total project value is $800 million, with work currently projected out to 2020. Wow . . . both for the project and the coverage!

For a newspaper in this day to put the effort and resources into covering what can often be shrugged off as just one of those things – road construction – is something I truly hope the fine residents of New Hampshire appreciate. I sure did . . . and I was merely visiting the state.

For every name that appears atop such articles, there are many other professionals who contribute to provide readers with the news they need. Everyone responsible deserves huge credit for the Sunday News coverage of Dec. 18, but officially let’s tip our cap to staff writer Michael Cousineau, whose byline appeared on five of the articles. If his effort is matched in thoroughness and leadership by those holding the purse strings on I-93, there’s no doubt New Hampshire will be an ever better place to live – and visit – than it is today.