Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Globe's State of Affairs: Not Good.

As angry as I've been with the Globe for certain stories, I can't help but think that news like this is contributing - more than anything - to the shaky articles that have been printed as of late. From Massachusetts Liberal:
The Boston Globe is about to undergo another round of buy-outs that will be devastating to what was once a great newspaper -- before The New York Times came to town.Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eileen McNamara is bolting for academia. That moves follows a similar one in the last round from investigative reporter extraordinaire Walter Robinson. Also rumored to be looking to the door are veteran reporters and editors such as Steve Kurkjian, Charles Radin, Bob Turner and Peter Howe.

The NY Times is killing the Boston Globe, that much is for certain. They're turning it into a regional paper at best - and not a very good one at that. Mass Lib is right: these cuts are a self-fulfilling prophecy - by creating these cuts, the paper has a smaller depth in the news it covers, therefore less people will read it, necessitating even more cuts.

I can't remember where I read it - which is truly a shame - but there was an interesting article I read within the past year on a new trend in businesses: leaving publicly traded status to return to private hands. Why? Because when you're a publicly traded company, not only is there a responsibility to bring profits, but rather large ones at that. Newspapers are still profitable across the country, but not to the tune that makes investors happy. A 5-10% profit just isn't going to move the stocks up - and in fact could very well go way, way down. However, a private owner may be more than happy with 5-10% profits, especially when that 5-10% could be millions of dollars. An insulated environment would allow those companies to grow, in both profitability and what they deliver to costumers - and you just can't get that when you're pressured to axe jobs and cut expenses.

It's well past time for the NY Times to sell its subsidiaries - at least the ones that were once great papers, like the Boston Globe. The Times has forced the Globe to cut all of its international bureaus, national desk and much, much more. They've cut great columnists like Thomas Oliphant - and now people like Eileen McNamara. When does it end? When will the Times just sell the company, hopefully to someone from Boston - who cares about Boston having an established, at least national newspaper. The people of Boston - and the investors of NY Times, who clearly aren't getting their money's worth - deserve no less.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

As online becomes dominant, content becomes king. Someday, the dead tree delivery system will go away. The writing will remain.

The NYT is removing the core competency of the Globe. As shaky as the current business model may be, it's better than the one they're building: using declining paper circulation to deliver the same wire stories readers can find everywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of states of affairs: Check out BMG's. They have front-paged a post by a Republican praising Murray's pledge to hold a discriminatory vote on same sex marriage. The thread is a third repugs, a third process liberals, and maybe a third pro-equality.

I am waiting for you to come to understand that that blog does more harm than good.

Ryan Adams said...

Indeed, Anon 6:47... a wire service is something one can get from google and yahoo. The NY Times is well past the point of helping the Globe deliver stories, though, so let's hope they just sell the Globe off.

Anon 7:07, send me an email, we should chat =)

Anonymous said...

Globe's demise

I do not understand how this will all work, but the defunding of journalism in our newly wired, very entertaining economy is a bad sign for democracy. The only thing approaching an alternative that I see is the example of Josh Micah Marshall getting funded for his work through his website. I'm very happy to pay for Times Select. I pay for Salon, too, but they do very little journalism. No subscribers means not journalists.

Journalists are the eyes of the citizenry. I don't want us to go blind.

-KBusch

Anonymous said...

It had been my understanding that the NYTimes Corp's intention all along when it bought the Glob was to turn it into a regional newspaper, to entice people to buy the NYTimes for national and international news, and the Glob for local and regional news.

Neither really worked out, because the NYTimes Corp did not anticipate the development of the Web.

The NYTimes Corp's business model was apparently modeled after the Gannett's business model. Gannett publishes USAToday and owns a number of local newspapers. Gannett had anticipated that USAToday would be the paper for national and international news, and their local newspapers would be bought for local and regional news. That didn't work out particularly well.

And frankly, neither will the NYTimes Corp's business model. Advertising, the lifeblood of American newspapers, is increasingly going Web, and not just CraigsList.

One thing that I find amusing about the NYTimes is that they are charging for access to their op-ed columnists, but not for their news reporting. That suggests that they believe that the product of their opinionists is more valuable than the product of their reporters. That is very strange for an entity that is supposed to be a newspaper.

--raj

Anonymous said...

Hey, Raj, I hadn't really thought about the business model. What you explain, though, makes sense.

Atrios amoung others commented that the NYTimes did the opposite of the Wall Street Jounral: you pay for the Wall Street Journal's news but are free to be influenced by its Triassic columnists.

To be fair to the NYTimes, the opinion columnists consistently appeared in the top 10 emailed articles before they started charging for the Times. So they seem to have chosen the most sought after part of the paper.

-KBusch

Ryan Adams said...

The NY Times' business model has proven a grim failure, to exacerbate it by further eroding the Globe's talent (including their ability to cover regional news and opinion) is very sad indeed.

I maintain the Times should just sell the Globe, as the Globe hasn't been making it the kind of profits they'd want anyway, and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

KBusch

You're right about the WSJ, but the ironic thing is that the same business information that is available in the WSJ is available elsewhere for free. Is the WSJ's Web business model is that it collects the information in one location? If so, that's a pretty lame business model.

The only thing that I could figure out about the WSJ was that it had some cachet--visitors to an office would believe that the business was somewhat serious if it had a copy of the current WSJ on the table in the waiting room. I'm not joking about that.

--raj

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