I fundamentally disagree with David that boston.com can't at least provide a substantial profit to the Globe, one that could perhaps pay for an entire news staff (even if it's not quite as large as the present staff). Why? The LA Times does it - their online ads are enough to pay for 660 employees at the paper, making the paper sales and ads gravy.
David points to Kos and Perez Hilton as sites that get a lot more hits than the Globe and don't generate the type of revenue necessary to staff a newsroom. Well, true, but do those sites have entire trained staffs completely dedicated toward selling ads - seeking out those advertisers, making the case, using established contacts? Even if they do, how large, qualified and talented are those staffs? What sorts of numbers and figures from professional polling and marketing do they have to work with? This is just one of the many good points Stomv makes in David's thread - points that I think even Stomv underestimates in terms of how much more profitable online papers can be than websites where the writer draws cum on celebrity faces and you have to click on the website to find out how to advertise on it.
Again, I say there's too many questions regarding the NYT's claims about the Globe to take at face value. But whether or not the Globe's really projected to lose $85 million this year, it doesn't mean online ads can't sustain a news staff. For all we know, the NYT/Globe's losing that $85 million through distribution costs alone, or from not maximizing ad sales (online or otherwise), or some combination of the two. Unfortunately, no one really knows what the heck is going on at the NYT and its management of the Globe. However, whatever it is, it's nothing to inspire confidence -- so people shouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions.