Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Taylor group gets two boosts

The Stephen Taylor-led group that’s seeking to buy the Boston Globe from the New York Times Co. is getting more interesting by the day.

Last week the Globe reported that the group includes Mary McGrath, who’s best-known for producing two Christopher Lydon-hosted shows on public radio, “The Connection” and “Open Source,” and who is a formidable journalist in her own right.

She also hails from a legendary family of journalists that includes her brother Charles “Chip” McGrath, a staff writer for the New York Times; her brother Jim McGrath, an editorial writer for the Albany Times Union; and her nephew Ben McGrath, a staff writer for the New Yorker.

On Saturday the Globe revealed that Stephen Taylor, a former high-level executive at the Globe, has been joined by his cousin Ben Taylor, a former Globe publisher who was removed by the Times Co. in 1999. (The Taylors sold the Globe to the Times Co. in 1993.)

Is it OK to start feeling optimistic?

Going lean and green with GlobeReader

Our new front page

Our new front page

Tomorrow morning, for the first time in more than 30 years, we won’t be looking for the Boston Globe on our front walkway. Last night I took a rather momentous step — I canceled home delivery of the Monday-to-Saturday print edition, leaving us only with the Sunday paper.

Why did we do this? It’s been inevitable since early this summer, when the Globe made a couple of important changes in its distribution model. First, it unveiled GlobeReader, an electronic paper that’s a faster and easier read than the Web edition. Second, it raised the price of its print edition.

Seven-day home delivery of the Globe now costs $46.56 a month in Media Nation. With advertising in what may be a permanent decline, readers are going to have to pick up more of the cost, so I certainly don’t fault the Globe for charging more. But our family is not immune from economic pressures. For us, it makes sense to go with paper on Sundays and use GlobeReader the rest of the week.

By canceling the daily Globe, are we contributing to the paper’s financial woes? We thought long and hard about that before making our decision. The Globe remains the most important news organization in Greater Boston. Civic life would be much poorer without it.

We would not have canceled the paper if the only alternative was to read it on the Web. Like virtually all newspapers, the Globe is struggling with its decision some dozen year ago to offer its content online for free. At one time, newspaper executives assumed that advertising revenues would eventually justify that decision. It didn’t happen — it may never happen — and the way out of that morass is unclear. We were not about to contribute to that pain.

But Globe executives presumably had their eyes wide open when they unveiled GlobeReader in the midst of a recession and made it available to anyone with Sunday home delivery. Clearly, the idea was to preserve the Sunday edition at all costs. I’ve been told that the Sunday paper accounts for as much as 60 percent of the paper’s revenues. So no, I don’t feel guilty about taking advantage of the Globe’s new business strategy.

Although this was not an overriding factor, it’s also true that electronic delivery is far better for the environment.

Is our move to GlobeReader permanent? Not necessarily. Mrs. Media Nation, whose affinity for old-fashioned print is stronger than mine, is interning at a school library this fall as she works her way toward a master’s. Once that’s over, depending on her schedule, we may resume print.

But if the folks at the Globe are going to offer a variety of electronic-distribution options (not just the Web and GlobeReader, but the Kindle and a mobile cellphone edition, too), we’re going to take advantage of them. I can only hope that they know what they’re doing.

How meta is this?

Media Nation links to the New Haven Independent’s coverage of the Annie Le murder, noting that the news site refrained from naming the suspect, Raymond Clark, until he had been formally charged. The Independent links back to Media Nation’s commentary on said decision and asks its readers to comment.

Check out the discussion.

Baker, Cahill and Mihos, too

Incredible as it may seem, there may not be a single candidate for governor in 2010 who’s opposed to expanded gambling. As we know, Gov. Deval Patrick is hopeless on the issue, as is State Treasurer Tim Cahill, who’s running as an independent.

A little Googling reveals that the leading Republican candidate, Charlie Baker, is also pro-gambling. Blue Mass. Group recently highlighted an interview Baker gave to the Boston Herald:

During his Herald interview, Baker also:

• Opposed Patrick’s plan to legalize three resort casinos in Massachusetts, saying the resorts would “cannibalize each other.” Baker said he is open to some sort of expanded gaming, however.

And businessman Christy Mihos, who’s challenging Baker for the Republican nomination, actually wants to legalize betting on college and professional sports.

Will no one stand up for common sense?

Just wondering

What is it that House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray like best about gambling casinos?

Is it the social dysfunction they help foster, including crime, suicide and bankruptcies? Or the fact that the promised revenues are an illusion, as the industry is in freefall thanks largely to oversaturation? (See recent reports by the New York Times and the Boston Globe.)

Casino opponents gave up a long time ago on Murray and Gov. Deval Patrick. It’s sad to see DeLeo joining them. Oh, where have you gone, Sal DiMasi?

Corporate socialism

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson notes that Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca-Cola, has denounced a proposed tax on soda as “socialism.”

Somehow I doubt that Kent is similarly troubled by the massive government subsidies that go into the making of high fructose corn syrup, the dubious, lab-created substance that is the principal ingredient (other than water) in soda.

Getting ready for the stretch run

In Theo Epstein-like fashion, the Boston Globe is getting ready for the stretch drive by bolstering its sports staff.

Peter Abraham, who covers the (gasp!) Yankees for the Journal News, which serves the Lower Hudson Valley, is joining the Globe to cover the Red Sox for the paper and Boston.com. “I’m sure some of you will accuse me of being a traitor because I’ll be covering the Red Sox,” Abraham writes on his blog. Yet the comments are surprisingly kind.

And speaking of refugees from Yankee country, Matt Pepin of the Times Herald-Record [now fixed] of Middletown, N.Y., has been named the sports editor of Boston.com. He’ll join the staff on Oct. 5, just in time for the playoffs. Adam Reilly has the details.

Torturing a Cheney photo

cheney_20090917Well-known photojournalist David Hume Kennerly is ripping mad at Newsweek for cropping his photo of Dick Cheney and his family to make it look like the former vice president is picking over the remains of a small animal. (Be sure to click through so that you can see the before and after pictures.)

Appropriately enough (make that inappropriately enough), the photo was used to illustrate something Cheney had said about torture, of which he’s all in favor.

Noting that Newsweek had taken a picture of a warm family scene and cropped it so that it looked like an animal sacrifice, with Cheney as the knife-wielding priest, Kennerly writes:

This radical alteration is photo fakery. Newsweek’s choice to run my picture as a political cartoon not only embarrassed and humiliated me and ridiculed the subject of the picture, but it ultimately denigrated my profession.

Kennerly’s right on target, as the lame response from a Newsweek spokesman makes clear. The photo was tortured into something that it was not. As a result, it’s not journalism, either.

Murder suspect charged — and named

Police in Connecticut this morning finally charged Raymond Clark in connection with the murder of Yale University student Annie Le. And with that, the New Haven Independent — which had refused to identify Clark when he was merely a “person of interest” — has named him and posted a photo.

Earlier: “Ethics, competition and a high-profile murder.”

Audio of panel on journalism and social media

Thanks to four excellent panelists and an interested and engaged audience, we had a great time last night at a discussion titled “Are Blogs and Twitter Improving the Dissemination of Information and News?”

The panel was held at the historic Vilna Shul on Beacon Hill — a bit of a nostalgia trip for me, as I lived less than a block away in 1979-’80.

I’ve posted an MP3 of the discussion. There’s a lot of reverb, and it is difficult to hear members of the audience, who did not use the mic. My apologies. The panelists, in the order in which they spoke, were:

And thanks to Doug Levin, who put together the program.