Globe in Crisis

Friday, June 12, 2009


What’s playing out in Boston is a familiar drama: the sad spectacle of the slow death, by bleeding, of a venerable patriarch. The Globe’s crisis is on one hand remarkable because the paper has been a New England institution and an indispensable element of the democratic process for 137 years. But on the other hand it is but the latest victim of industry-wide pandemic. Boston Phoenix media critic Adam Reilly on the death throes.

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Comments [10]

Elaine Hopkins from Peoria/Macomb Illinois

I desperately miss the Chicago Tribune delivered to my driveway every day. The Trib cut out its downstate Illinois home delivery several months ago, offering instead a $2.50 per week subscription on the web for a replica of the print edition. I pay for it, but I hate reading it there -- chained to my desktop or laptop instead of relaxing on the porch or carrying it with me on an errand. Often I don't get it read until a day later. It's more comprehensive than the Trib's free website but the print is too small to tempt me on many stories. Many of my friends share these sentiments. Profs at WIU in Macomb used to use the Trib in their classes. No more. We've all complained but been ignored, as usual. Meanwhile Chicago is also a loser, as the temptation to go there is lost when the only way to find out what's taking place is endless reading on a computer. Our quality of life is diminished.

Jun. 18 2009 03:20 PM
Ralph Adam Fine from Milwaukee WI

You asked for comments about The Globe story. For five or six years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a Milwaukee Sentinel reporter friend asked me to speak to his University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee journalism class, once per semester. I started each session with two questions: (1) How many have seen news items (either print or television) on something about which you had personal knowledge?; (2) Those who raised your hands indicating that you have seen such news items, raise your hands if the incident or matter was reported correctly.

Every year, about half the class answered the first question “yes.” With rare exceptions over the years, ALL answered the second question “no.” Sadly that has been my experience as well – and, for two years in the mid-1970s, I was a television reporter for the then Milwaukee ABC television affiliate (winning two Milwaukee Press Club Awards). Since 1979, I have been a trial and appellate judge.

In my view, that the media rarely gets it right is one (perhaps a major) reason for the internet bleed-off; folks no longer need to go to the places they do not trust. Of course, internet posters and bloggers will also be wrong (and, as you pointed out, sometimes outrageously wrong), but there is so much out there for free, why pay for sources in which you have, legitimately, little faith? Those who get their news from the internet—including on-line newspapers—are able to be their own editors, rather than rely on those who climbed the ladder of newsroom bureaucracies to reach the spot where they can set the news agenda for a city, state, or country. Now, the agenda is all-inclusive—and it is largely a meritocracy that does the framing.

Ralph Adam Fine
Milwaukee WI

Jun. 16 2009 08:25 PM
Marc from Boston

Years ago I subscribed to The Globe. After a year of biased journalism, I cancelled and went to The Herald. After a year of this trashy tabloid, I went back to The Globe. I liked the style and the writing, but I just couldn't get past how biased the news reporting was against anything conservative. I finally gave up and went to USA Today. It's a bit light and I miss the local news.

If you go to any article in the Globe online and check out the comments, you'll see I'm not alone. I don't know if their obvious bias is that much of a factor, but OTM really should have at least mentioned this. It's certainly a factor in the movement away from CNN, and other cable networks to FOX. Please try to cover at least the obvious parts of the story. Even if you're not happy with what it might say.

Jun. 16 2009 02:35 PM
Bill H. from Oregon

After experiencing 6 decades of inaccurate media bias, propaganda, and sensationalism rubbing our eyes and ears in filth; I can understand why the old forms of media are struggling. RIP and good riddance.

Jun. 16 2009 12:39 AM
Matt W. from Arlington, Virginia

Supporting journalism in a city is not the same as supporting a particular paper. Journalists should understand that this has always been the case from the first practice of journalism. Arguments for a particular paper tied to caring for journalism confuse the point and misunderstand journalism.

Jun. 15 2009 06:19 PM
John R. from Virginia

Times goes life. If we bailed out every dieing company we would still have the railroads...oh wait, never mind.
I guess it is that people want to be ignorant. They don't read anymore, they don't vote anymore, they have to lower graduation standards to get graduates. They want yesterdays news today!!! Oh wait, maybe that's not it ether. Can we put the globe on Twitter?

Jun. 15 2009 03:25 PM
Thomas Westgard from Chicago, Illinois

I am the opposite of upset or mourning at the changes in the newspaper industry. I understand the reason for the meme in the corporate media, since they are reporting on their own demise. But what's radically underemphasized is the likely result. As they say, power abhors a vacuum, and the power to report the news is a big source of power. The only thing that is dying is a particular corporate structure.

Corporate media outlets have been abusing their position of power for decades. I have been a regular reader of Project Censored, as they tracked the increasing corporate consolidation of news media from nine multinationals to seven, to five, pointing out at each merger how this process has undermined the independence and reliability of news sources.

As with all good stories, this one is complex, and ultimately the "bad guys" includes everyone, from the managers to the shareholders, to the advertisers, to the readers. All of us have pushed the process forward with bad deeds and neglect.

As the corporate news sources fall into unprofitability, it opens a new field for creativity. Disney and GE, two of the largest media owners, never spoke for the larger America, and as their newspapers die, it is only their corporate PR department that is atrophying. Readers are leaving because we mistrust them, because we are tired of the lies and omissions.

I don't know the ultimate outcome, but I do know what will come next. We are seeing the first blossoming of a period of creativity and rebirth. That alone is a good thing.

Jun. 15 2009 02:02 PM
jim from dorchester, ma

Don't you think that all of this is simply a prelude to the day that is soon to come when the NYTimes really puts the screws to it's employees in NY? They don't have the "capitulate or we'll throw you and your paper into the trash" card to play in NY. They are obviously not going to close the NYTimes, but they want to establish their credentials as being seriously badass so that their NY staff will roll over for them. The Times has never really cared about the Globe or the city of Boston and slaughtering the biggest and most important newspaper in New England clearly means nothing to them if it gives them some advantage at home. I subscribe to both papers. I am so angry at the Times that I would like to cancel that subscription, but let's face it, that's not happening. Whether one reads the Globe or not it's disappearance would have a profound impact on the lives of everyone in the region.

Jun. 14 2009 06:39 PM
YElliott from Nashville

Globe "lost $50M last year." Does that mean the paper spent $50M more than it earned or does it mean its EBIDTA is down $50M or its revenues are down $50M?

Jun. 14 2009 01:12 PM
edward from newton, ma

No, no. This is not the slow death of an institution. It is a foolish rebellion by Boston Globe reporters and editors who feel they are worth more than they really are. Might I remind the Boston Globe staff that they are reporters and editors of a newspaper in Boston, not that of the New York Times. On a daily basis, the Boston Globe cannot hold a candle to the New York Times in terms of in-depth coverage. But these people believe somehow they have the NYT over a barrel, and they cannot operate the Globe without them. They now face the real probablily the NYT will sell the Globe to less journalistically-minded concerns that will sell off the real estate and let the rest wither away. Or the NYT will simply close the Globe. Either way, they lost that silly vote.

Jun. 13 2009 04:42 PM

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