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

Jurkowitz on the Globe

Mark Jurkowitz has got what you want — his first big takeout on the Boston Globe since he left that paper and returned to the Boston Phoenix last summer. I don’t want to read anything this long on the Web, so I’ll wait until tomorrow. But you may, if you choose, get started right now.

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  1. mike_b1

    Very curious piece. It’s extra-heavy on the Arts section, but tosses Business a bone ignores Sports altogether.I was held up by this line: “But now, the very character and future of the paper seem to hang in the balance.” That seems excessively dire. It’s also a common opinion of ex-employees who think the good old days are gone for good. Reminds me a bit of Washington DC: Out of touch with the rest of America, who generally doesn’t care about the Beltway folks’ obsessions.That said, the Globe does have several problems. It doesn’t recognize the kinds of stories and approaches that are meaningful to readers. On both counts, it is pulled down by the gravity of ugly provincial Boston. Guys, “we’ve always done it that way” is a copout, not a rationale.It doesn’t market itself well at all. For example, for two months following the murder of a man outside a West Roxbury restaurant, a Globe billboard directly above the site proclaiming “If a story happens in this restaurant, the Boston Globe will cover it.” Only after the West Roxbury Bulletin raised the subject did the Globe remove the sign. In truth, short of a double-murder, the Globe pays lip service to the city neighborhoods. I doubt anyone outside of the Morrissey offices knows the difference between the old and new Sunday Magazines. Yet recently there have been image ads touting how that section is “bold.” Gimme us a break. Howard Stern is bold. The Sunday Magazine is what you read on the toilet.In Sports and in Business, it has held on to writers who have long passed their primes — if they ever had them. Sports fans are turning to all sorts of fascinating avenues available on the Web (Baseball Prospectus is one) that are heavy on stats and great prose but skip the juvenile and incessant trashing of the teams/players/coaches/management that is an outright obsession with the Globe staff.And if Newsweek’s Jane Bryant Quinn can write a scintillating and pertinent weekly column on finances, you’d think the Globe could identify someone in Greater Boston who could do the same. Finally, there’s execution. I cancelled my subscription last week after hearing yet again that the Sunday edition would be delivered as much as 90 minutes late due to “inclement weather.” How can the Globe say that with a straight face when there’s less than an inch of snow on the ground? I lived through dozens of blizzards in Chicago and never, ever was my paper late. I’ve also had them blame press problems and dealt with lousy carriers. The Globe has to start recognizing that the people who deliver the paper each day are often the only contact they have with the reader/customer, and it’s crucial that the Globe get that part right.What MJ gets right is that all of that falls ultimately on Baron for not recognizing who and what would and could actually sell today. When it comes to the vision thing, Baron is hopelessly myopic.

  2. Anonymous

    I would like to see more local stories. The front section is chock full of Iraq and Beltway doings…If I wanted that, I’d subscribe to the Washington Post on-line. Even mother ship Times knows enough to mix local and national interesting stories between the aformention two topics, two topics we, the readership, are largely powerless to change. Those two topics demoralize us, in our towns…of Lynn…Lexington…and my hometown of Keene NH. We don’t like that.The Boston Globe was once New England’s newspaper. It followed in the tradition of the Boston Post. As a clerk at the Corner News, I’d sell 155 or more copies of the Sunday Globe just ten years ago. It was something we look forward to. The Sunday Globe. The sections divided up among my family, read on the livingroom floor. Today, the Corner News doesn’t sell out of town papers. We’ve (in a small New Hampshire city) learned to live without it.In today’s Globe, I go straight to the Op-ed page, and on to the local second section. Those two parts are why I still read the Globe.Steve at

  3. Anonymous

    Mark does a nice job on the aspects of the paper he focuses on, but the lack of mention of the Sports section’s woes is glaring. No part of the Globe has suffered a more precipitous tumble. To use a sports analogy, the Globe sports section used to be like the Celtics of the 1960s-80s, now it is the ML Carr Celtics of the mid-90s.

  4. Anonymous

    No wonder Dan didn’t want to read Mark’s article online–that’s some damn itty-bitty font! Even View>Text Size>Larger didn’t help.Unlike for Mike, the best part of the Globe for me is the reliability of the delivery guy. Man we get the paper before 6 every morning, and before 7 on Sunday. Whatever they’re paying DaSilva, it’s not enough. He’s what’s keeping me subscribed, cause it sure isn’t the content anymore. Sunday mag is awful now (I can tell the diff! Tales from the City–blecch!) Oliphant gone, Sidekick, weak local coverage and an intangible sense of tiredness–you can almost feel it in the newsprint.I go straight to the op-ed too, and the letters. Then look for Alex Beam, and the funnies, and dat’s about it.

  5. Anonymous

    “For some, recent events at the Globe have an ALL-TOO-FAMILIAR-RING, The Globe is AT LEAST AS CENTRAL TO BOSTON’S DNA as the BSO, HARVARD, and MASS GENERAL … cuts were an UNHAPPY REMINDER … CITY’S CIVIC LIFE … and there’s more!… one of Boston’s distinguishing institutions … worrisome signal … thorny issue of race … ominous sign … deeply rooted fears … changing of the guard … nagging question … hang in the balance. …honestly. Between the cliches and grandiloquence, it’s enough to barf up a lung. I take it the Globe is AT A CROSSROADS too, perhaps SHAKEN TO ITS VERY CORE and BUFFETED BY CROSSWINDS and EYEING THE FUTURE NERVOUSLY and POISED TO MAKE A NEW LEAP INTO UNCHARTED WATERS.why must these vaporous pieces all have the same solemn, fetid tone? why must they be written at all.

  6. mike_b1

    Because media writers need to eat, too.

  7. Anonymous

    Oliphant will still be writing as a freelancer, from what I hear.The anonymous post about the cliche’s is a sharp one — and it appears that Jurkowitz should have read Orwell “Politics and the English Language” before wrirting this piece.To his defense though, he worked at the Globe.Perhaps this is why the piece rings so (over?) dramatic. I imagine that the “ominous signs” and “deeply rooted fears” are less santimonious in his eyes, then they would be to a reader of the paper who has never been on the payroll, or used the comapny gym. And that is probably where this piece misses a bit. It is written from an insider’s perspective. The focus is on the morale of the staff, which is of course, terrible. But remember that the staff is not merely seeing 32 newsroom staffers go; in many cases they are seeing life-long friends go. This means almost nothing to a reader in North Reading, or Carver, on a personal level; they just want quality news. And of course, the quality of the news is waning with all of these cuts, but the peice did not spend as much time dealing with the pragmatic results of all this. Though I imagine more pieces will be forthcoming. One question worth posing, and perhaps Media Nation can take a stab at this one, is what the Internet means for reporters and writers of the future. (and in some cases the present. Howard Stern mentioned the other day on his first Sirius broadcast, that new technology will give voices to braodcasters who are blacklisted by managemnent. Perhaps, in the future, the limitlessness of the World Wide Web will create a need for more good reporters, more interesting writers and more experts on more subject matters. More importantly, it offer a wider array of alternative voices, hence a healthier public discourse. In some bizzare way, the withering away of the newspaper, while no doubt tragic, may open up what is often a closed industry to worthy writers.After all, I am on the web right now, engaging in discourse on a blog, discussing an article I read online. And I can assure you, this type of worhty discussion would not have happened on Confidential Chat. And its not like you cant sell ads on the Internet.or am I just naive?

  8. Anonymous

    Ever since Watergate, journos think that they alone are the Guardians at the Gates, protecting democracy. Their level of self-absorption is what turns off many of us. Mark’s a fine fellow but he doesn’t exactly have to tell us that he previously worked for the Globe, any more than Sam Allis has to tell us that he attended Andover & Harvard. God help me but I agree with Mike Barnicle on this one, the folks on Morrissey Blvd. are “clueless”. They are more interested in winning the culture wars than selling their product.

  9. mike_b1

    If Barnicle said that, he’s right (although I’d want to know whose idea he’s ripping off this time), they are clueless.Hey Globe management, focus groups aren’t going to get you where you need to go. You need to decide what it is you are trying to be, then declare it to the world, and let them vote on it with their wallets.

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