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Open letter to Globe columnist on local news, AI

Gary Goldsmith of Arlington, a retired doctor, submitted this letter to the editor. It was sent earlier to Hiawatha Bray, a Boston Globe tech columnist who wrote "In Arlington, an AI news site takes root."


I have read your columns for many years and found them interesting and informative. However, you flubbed your recent article on Inside Arlington in two ways and missed half the story.

Yes, it's true that Inside Arlington’s copy is “deadly, dull reading” (your words). It also suffers from the same faults as other AI apps these days – inaccuracies, wrong attributions and an excess of approximation.

AI is cool to us tech fans, but it is far from being a reliable source of truth. Its misinformation may not be purposeful, but it results in a degraded reporting tool.

Smug depiction

Perhaps more importantly, despite Winston Chen’s smug depiction of Arlington as a "news desert," the truth is that we have much better local news coverage than most towns.

YourArlington is a remarkable hyperlocal source of news, run since 2006 by Bob Sprague, a respected former editor for both the Herald, The Globe and The Arlington Advocate. It is easy to dismiss because it is “just a website” and not some sexy AI application, but it is a critically important and incredibly valuable.

They “. . . aspire to the highest journalistic standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness.” Their “. . . aim is to bolster an engaged citizenry and so strengthen our community and democracy.” These are noble goals in a troubling time of manipulation and disinformation.

ACMi touted

Then there is ACMi, an award-winning, nonprofit public-access television station unaffiliated with town government .(BTW, Arlington is not a city.)

You acknowledged on WBUR that, like ChatGPT, you haven’t checked out ACMi's website. You should. You'd find archived live-streamed town meetings, widely watched by residents, especially during the pandemic, as well as a weekly newscast, which is intensely local and much higher quality than you might expect.

As you said on WBUR, “AI is not a cure for the travails of journalism. It is just a patch to try to make sure that people get some local news . . . . It’s never going to substitute for human beings who have understanding and can put things into context.” Arlington has to good fortune to have two sources of local news that do just that.

This letter was published Sunday, Oct. 8, 2025.

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