By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Double-barreled Metro action

I’ll keep this post short. After all, I wouldn’t want to exceed Metro Boston’s word count.

In the Phoenix, Mark Jurkowitz has a hilarious account of what happened when he set out to do what he had envisioned as a positive feature on Metro’s growing readership among young people and commuters.

In the Herald, Jay Fitzgerald reports on a new study that suggests the Metro business model isn’t working out particularly well. That’s of crucial interest to the Herald, since the New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, acquired 49 percent of the local Metro earlier this year.

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  1. Anonymous

    What’s wrong with the Metro- in fact, I’m planning on starting my own free paper where all news stories must be in haiku formCandidates debateMenino denies thin skinMaura makes him cry

  2. Anonymous

    Perhaps it’s time for a re-examination of the concept of demographics. An old Boston ad-biz chestnut is that when Eddie Mitton, Pres. of Jordan Marsh (they were a department store, kiddies) was asked by Hal Clancy, then publisher of the “Herald/Traveler”, why Jordan Marsh advertised only in the Globe, he was told that “your readers are my shoplifters”. It will be interesting to see how effective ads in the Metro really are. It’s all well and good to be egalitarian but if people have no money to spend, what do you advertise?

  3. Dan Kennedy

    I’ve only heard the shoplifter anecdote with respect to Rupert Murdoch and the New York Post. I’m skeptical about the Herald Traveler version, since that paper was relatively upscale.

  4. mike_b1

    Herald freebies can’tStop the circulation slidePurcell out, Murdoch in?

  5. Copy Editor

    I think “your readers are my shoplifters” as been attributed to the head of many an upscale department store.I recall a version involving Bloomingdale’s and the NY Daily News.

  6. Anonymous

    I heard it well before Murdoch was heard of outside Down Under, (yeah, I’m THAT old). Not sure if it ORIGINATED in Boston but a member of the Mitton family, (who sold Jordan Marsh to Allied Stores, pre-Federated) told me the story. DK, we must be remembering different tabloids. The one in the 60’s and 70’s, (as opposed to Traveler broadsheet) was hardly what I would refer to as upscale. It included numbers for mob-run illegal gambling on the sports pages. Ah, “Newspaper Row”!

  7. Anonymous

    If the Globe and Herald still can figure out how to make it work with a historically long and established presence and built up readership but then have to resort to these idiotic free dailies, then they deserve what they have coming their way.That is incompetence, at many levels and at a most stunning level.N.

  8. Anonymous

    I just know that when I visit Boston and take the T to Logan on Monday morning, I see lots of people reading Metro, a good number of Globes, random New York Times and Wall Street Journals, and rarely, rarely, rarely a Herald. The Herald can report that Metro’s “business model” isn’t working. But having a lot of people reading your paper seems like a pretty good business model to me.

  9. Dan Kennedy

    A very short history of Boston tabloids, dating back only to the 1960s. Boston had three papers, at least toward the end of the decade: the Globe, which had finally attained dominance after decades of striving; the Herald Traveler, the paper of the shrinking aristocracy; and the Record American, the Hearst tabloid. I’m pretty sure that’s the paper Anonymous is thinking of.In 1972 the Herald Traveler was forced to sell to Hearst after losing Channel 5 and WHDH Radio, thanks to an FCC cross-ownership ruling that the Globe had been pushing for for years. Thus, for most of the ’70s, Boston did not have a tabloid: the merged paper was named the Herald American, a sort-of populist broadsheet that attempted unsuccessfully to compete with the Globe.In the late ’70s, Hearst converted the Herald American into a tabloid. It helped, but not much. In the early ’80s, the paper essentially collapsed, and Rupert Murdoch swooped in to pick up the pieces. The “American” was dropped from the name, and Boston has had a tabloid called the Herald ever since.

  10. mike_b1

    Dan Kennedy sezHerald readers, don’t rest now!Your paper be doneHey, this is fun!

  11. mike_b1

    Cosmo revamps BizBoston Magazine loves himReaders don’t noticerunning out of steam now…

  12. AmusedbutInformedBystander

    Actually,the Herald didn’t lose it’s TV license due to a “cross-ownership ruling”; the license decision was made years before the 1975 cross-ownership ruleThe Herald lost its license because the original grant, in 1954, was tainted by Publisher Robert Choate’s improper ex parte meetings with an FCC commissioner. The FCC found that “The very attempt to establish such a pattern of influence does violence to the integrity of the Commission’s processes” and that “the Commission’s processes can best be protected in this instance by exercising our discretion to void the grant to WHDH.” (29 F.C.C. 204, at 211-212). There were four applicants during the comparative hearings, Herald Traveler, BBI (which won and established WCBV), Greater Boston Televison (with minority representation) and Charles River (owner of WCRB and WCRB-FM). BOTH the Herald and Charles River lost points due to owning other media outlets in town. BBI was found most-qualified during the hearings and got the license (although ironically losing points for promising too much local programming,when it’s WCVB would eventually lead all major market stations in that category)So let’s not believe the rightwing “say-it-enough-and-it-becomes-true” spin attributing the WHDH decision not to the combination of the Herald’s corrupt acts and comparative hearings, but to a cross-ownership rule and Kennedy/Globe influence that DID NOT EXIST at the time of the decision to designate the Channel 5 license for renewal.

  13. mike_b1

    N writes long statementAnd he wites anon, bores all N, please go away

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  15. Anonymous

    Hal Clancy was a great man, in the 60’s and to’s, he was very powerful in Boston. Many negative things have been written about this great man, including some editorial in the Boston Globe, the year of Hal Clancy’s death. Funny Timing!!! Cowardly writing!!

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