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

Jack Welch’s local vision

Retired GE chairman Jack Welch has glimpsed the future of metropolitan newspapers like the Globe, even if he’s not the guy I want to see implementing that vision.

“You’ve got to make the newsroom not control the world,” Welch said on CNBC, according to this account in the Herald by Jesse Noyes. “I’m not sure local papers need to cover Iraq, need to cover local events. They can be real local papers. And franchise, purchase from people very willing to sell to you their wire services that will give you coverage.”

That still sounds horrifying to my aging, nostalgia-attuned ears. But he’s right. Now that the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC and the like are just a click away, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Miami Herald et al. have little stake in covering national and international news except when there’s a local angle.

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6 Comments

  1. ben

    I generally enjoy and respect Howard Kurtz of the Post but commenting on CNN today on the state of the newspaper industry he stated that he still “loved ink on paper. Its so tough to read a long story on the computer screen.” Is he aware that you can actually print the articles out and read them? His stronger point was that you read articles you might not have planned on if you have the paper in front of you. I wholeheartedly agree which is why I have 4 a day at my doorstep.

  2. Anonymous

    Well, the problem of course is this: if there are only a handful of people covering, say The White House, then there will be less people digging for truth.Even with many papers covering Washington, we are still lacking in touch questions often.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 5:06: Do you really think we’re better off having hundreds of people credentialed to the White House? All I think that produces is pack journalism of a particularly mindless sort.Ideally, the Globe would still have a Washington bureau, but its reporters would cover local stories emanating from D.C. There are plenty of them.And there will still be a number of national media organizations that would cover Washington as a national story.

  4. Aaron Read

    The trick here is that while excellent global news coverage is only a click away, I suspect there are lots of people who never take that click. Their sole source of “news” (I use the term somewhat loosely) is literally just the Metro.The reason, of course, is that they don’t read the news while at work, and don’t at home…but they can during their commute on the T. And the Metro is free and easily available.So if the Metro (rag that it is) covered only local news…with no national or world news…I fear many people would have almost no idea what the hell’s going on outside of Rt.128. That sort of mentality is already disturbing prevalent in this city; I don’t want to see it encouraged in any way.Why all this talk about the Metro? Aren’t you talking about the Globe? Well, yes, you were…but the Globe owns and supplies a lot of the Metro’s content. Hence the worry; if the Globe goes ultra-local, the Metro is bound to follow.

  5. Anonymous

    Dan (This is Anonymous 5:06)You raise a good point. Of course, with hundreds of reporters in The White House everyone tends to follow each other around, not wanting to miss the stories everyone else will get. I’d like to say the solution to that would be a stronger emphasis on thoughtful reporting, rather than less reporters at The White House, but it seems a bit naive. Still, less reporters means less chances for good journalism.Consider Charlie Savage’s wonderful piece on signing statements from 2006. That had no local angle, but it was a deep, substantive piece that had not yet been reported by the Post, USA Today, the networks, or The Times.But I guess those pieces — breakthrough national stories not broken by the Times/Post et al — are pretty rare.When it comes to keeping the Washington Bureau, I think the operative word would be ideally. Lord knows an owner would be tempted to do away with it — if not at The Globe than at other quality papers trying to stay afloat. I guess what it comes down to is that there is no easy solution, no painless transition, in trying to salvage print media. Its frustrating, for sure. I am glad we are having a conversation about it, however.Michael C.

  6. Sam

    Dan,I absolutely hate to plug my blog on other blogs (it’s smacks of self-promotion), but I thought you and those who’ve commented thus far would take interest in a recent entry on the Globe going local:http://samueljscott.wordpress.com/2006/12/29/how-to-save-the-boston-globe/I'd be curious to see what you and others think. For the record, I think it’s the only way to save the newspaper.

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