Monthly Archives: December 2008

Wednesday morning odds and ends

A few items for your consideration:

  • Why didn’t the Illinois legislature use the last few weeks to pass an emergency bill taking away Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s power to fill the Senate vacancy, and then do it again over his veto? Given that failure, I can’t imagine how anyone can stop Blago’s choice, Roland Burris, from being seated.
  • Lobbyist Vicki Iseman’s libel suit against the New York Times may be a classic case of a story that’s accurate but not true. No doubt the Times was accurate in reporting that anonymous former aides to John McCain had worried eight years ago that he might be having an affair with Iseman. But when you put it that way, you can understand why she’s suing.
  • Adam Reilly does a nice job of deconstructing Boston Magazine editor James Burnett’s weirdly obsequious interview with Mike Barnicle. But I’d love to hear from Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a longtime Barnicle nemesis with whom Barnicle now claims to have kissed and made up. That would be pretty damn interesting.
  • D’oh! When I recently wrote that I like Globe columnist Bob Ryan on New England Sports Network, I didn’t realize his show, “Globe 10.0,” had been canceled. You certainly wouldn’t know it from the NESN Web site. Truth be told, I only watched it during baseball season. But it was good! Really!

Why GateHouse should settle its suit

In my latest for the Guardian, I attempt to break down the issues in the case of GateHouse Media v. New York Times Co. to their essentials — and urge that the two sides settle their differences lest the future of online journalism be harmed.

The Globe’s new op-ed columnist

I’ve been tied up with family business the past few days, so it didn’t immediately register when — out of the corner of my eye — I saw my friend the Outraged Liberal fulminating over something outrageous he’d spotted in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

I backtracked this morning. Sure enough, the Globe ran an op-ed piece by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was responsible for the terrorist killings of 271 people over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The Globe now presumes that Gaddafi may instruct us on how best to engage with Russia. Unbelievable.

Mr. O.L. writes that “it would be fascinating to know how this piece wound up in the Globe. No offense, but how many other newspapers rejected it? Who is representing Gaddafi? How much is the author being paid?”

In the New Republic, James Kirchick unloads thusly:

[G]iving shrinking editorial real estate to a dictator so that he may offer his thoughts on a subject that doesn’t even remotely effect the national interests of his country is a new low, not just for the general unseemliness of the exercise, but because of the more traditional and unremarkable concerns of journalistic responsibility. If Gaddafi were willing to write a signed op-ed revealing something new about Lockerbie, it would certainly be newsworthy, and the Globe would have obtained a genuine scoop in publishing it. But the thoughts of the Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya about Russia are not only irrelevant, they also happen to be just plain unoriginal and uninteresting.

If the Globe still had an ombudsman, perhaps he or she could root around and tell us how this happened. Kirchick seems to think it was a deliberate act, but my own view is that you rarely go wrong in attributing such things to more mundane human frailties — laziness, stupidity or, given the time of year, vacations.

In any case, we deserve an explanation. It will be interesting to see if one is forthcoming.

Photo (cc) by Amanda Slater and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Monday morning odds and ends

I don’t plan to do much blogging this week, but I do want to call your attention to a few items:

  • Chuck Tanowitz and Adam Reilly have both written sharp analyses of GateHouse Media’s lawsuit against the New York Times Co. I think Reilly is on the mark with his observation that the Globe, through its Boston.com Your Town sites, is going beyond mere linking and is trying to establish itself as a substitute for GateHouse’s Wicked Local sites, while using GateHouse’s content.
  • Joe Dwinell of the Boston Herald has also weighed in with a good item [link now fixed] on the suit. I do disagree with his characterization of this as “David vs. Goliath.” Both GateHouse and the Times Co. are large, publicly traded media companies that are fighting for their financial lives. Call this Wounded Goliath I vs. Wounded Goliath II.
  • Sean Polay, a top Internet guy for Rupert Murdoch’s Ottaway Newspapers (including the Cape Cod Times and the Standard-Times of New Bedford), says he wouldn’t mind at all if Boston.com linked to Ottaway content. Interesting, given that Herald publisher Pat Purcell recently accepted Murdoch’s offer to run the Ottaway papers.

Finally, a source has provided me with a copy of Barclays’ most recent report on the New York Times Co., the one that placed the value of the Globe at a mind-bogglingly low $20 million. I have posted it (PDF), so you can have a look for yourself. Perhaps a few gimlet-eyed Media Nation readers can find some gold.

I’m dubious. As you will see, Barclays values the Globe at somewhere between $12 million and $20 million — lower than the value of the “Worchester Papers,” which it places at somewhere between $15 million and $25 million. That can’t be right.

And, come on — the “Worchester Papers”? Does someone at Barclays think the Worcester Telegram & Gazette are two different papers?

What happens to the Globe and NESN?

No doubt many folks at the Boston Globe are breathing a sigh of relief at the news that its corporate parent, the New York Times Co., plans to unload its 17.5 percent stake in the Red Sox. The conflicts of interest have been many — not over game stories, but over various Red Sox business ventures the Globe has had to cover over the years.

But hold on. I thought the main reason the Times Co. made this investment was because of the Sox’ 80 percent ownership of New England Sports Network. Globe sportswriters have been all over NESN, and some — especially Bob Ryan — have been quite good.

I imagine NESN would still want Globe people on the air. But doesn’t this mean the end of Globe exclusivity? I suppose NESN and the Globe could sign some sort of agreement, but that’s not the same as ownership.

Among other things, it strikes me that Sean McAdam, formerly of the Providence Journal and now of the Boston Herald, is an accomplished on-air performer, and would fit right in at NESN.

More: Adam Reilly wonders the same thing that I did when I first read the story: Is the Globe really worth just $20 million? I think it’s a typo. This suggests the Globe is worth $120 million. Of course, that’s shocking enough, given that the Times Co. bought the Globe for $1.1 billion back in 1993.

Journalism still legal in Massachusetts

Not that this was going anywhere, but the state’s Civil Service Commission has declined to punish the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover for committing journalism.

Michael Neve filed a complaint against the Tribune after the paper photographed him leaving a hearing at which he testified to having offered a $15,000 bribe to Methuen Mayor William Manzi. (Manzi reportedly did not accept the bribe, and the case is actually about something else.)

Neve’s lawyer had persuaded the commission to bar anyone from taking a photo during and after the hearing, held Oct. 30 in Boston. The Tribune responded by snapping Neve’s picture outside, after he’d left the building. Neve’s lawyer, James Krasnoo, tried to argue that “after” encompassed his client’s perambulations outdoors, in a public place, which is quite a stretch. By that definition, it’s still “after.”

I think it’s a good result for the paper and I think it’s the right result for the paper’s readers as well,” the Tribune’s lawyer, friend of Media Nation Rob Bertsche, is quoted as saying.

My only quibble: the Tribune should have posted the photo online.