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

Taking the Globe to task

Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post on the Boston Globe’s decision to eliminate its three remaining foreign bureaus: “I find it disheartening that a fine newspaper such as the Globe would feel compelled to diminish itself in this way. But maybe that’s the nostalgia of a dinosaur.” (Via Romenesko.)

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5 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I am not sure which I am sadder about: The erosion of American Prestige, of which foreign media bureaus are an aspect of, or the erosion of The Globe’s prominence on the media map and by extention, Boston as a amjor city of learning, arts, sciences and media, both old and new.This was hard to swallow. There couldn’t have been a truer time to repeat Tip O’Neil’s truism of ‘All Politics is Local’ and what goes on in far-flung areas affects us on a local level in so many ways. Messrs Wright’s and Callahan’s funerals lately is just another manifestation, to little things like how you interact with the immigrant person behind the counter at your local convenience store to heating fuel prices.What regular people and these empty suits @ NYTCO and Morrissey seem to miss that every one in those bureaus is an ambassador that exports an image and a human link to what the US is trying to achieve. In return, they learn about those corners like no phone connection can allow.Whatever they write does not represent 5% of what they know about those issues and cultures. They come back with a wealth of arrows in the quiver to dissect and understand and educate and solve.NYTCO is turning out to be a pretty horrible steward. All they have done is gut the Globe. There is no other way to assess its current result. It is neither a great local paper nor a great international or national paper, nor an often-quoted great editorial source, nor a recognizable art critic source for movies or books or performance.It is lifeless.Right now, one of the most prominent candidates is a former Mass Gov and you’d think that the Globe would be the foremost paper to quote on the subject matter and would be the go-to source for all things Mitt. Yet it isn’t. Just see how many times The Globe is mentioned in his portrays. Very seldom.Nina Easton’s silent slide to Forbes is another example of a missed opp cut.The shared-costs formula does not work for papers when taken too far. Every paper is better served by having its own take on events, national or international. There is no one sanctified way to look at matters and having different sources and analysis can only help and by the same token give the Globe a unique personality and weight vis-a-vis its readers and most importantly its advertisers.What is so unique about the Globe that an advertiser cannot achive in another paper? Nothing.Besides, the Globe was also right in throwing that challenge to you Dan about what is YOUR solution about local journalism, since you seem like an ambitious advocate of some insipid and ineffective local efforts that shall remain unnamed.You didn’t seem to have an answer either.We can talk local and international all day and all the potential hereforth but there doesn’t seem to be one great company/person who has cracked the formula.And it really boils down to one basic problem reflected in a wonderful Sam Allis column yesterday, that you can transpose to many different areas.He dealt with rampant misdiagnosed cases and the inability of new medical students to “think right,” process the info ( and symptoms) correctly and habit to rely on a readymade formula downloaded from the internet.It is the inability to process info correctly, with the right perspective and the right approach, ie without baggage. Each on its own merit.Until the Globe approaches info-gathering differently and stops being so insular, it will be out of touch and out of money for a while.Welch is a big advocate of making his old company being more accessible and every joe shmoe can touch it and feel it “every time he touches or buys a GE appliance” beyond its capital, medical and aeronautic divisions etc that most commoners don’t come across everyday.Howie Carr makes the Herald more accessible, within Joe Shmoe’s reach and feel. Maria Stephanos achieves as much compared to competitors she beats in ratings.All you do is hear about the Globe, it is too insular for small advertisers – and costly- and too shy in its style for readers, except maybe in its sports dept, and even there the WEEI ban curtails that effectiveness.I read this Slate piece and couldn’t help but wish they don’t take his advice. Not until one great buyer comes forward at least.No one knows whether Welch will be a great suitor. We don’t know much about what he thinks or does locally, so how are people supposed to build an opinion if he is indeed a good fit. He doesn’t even bother to make himself noticed and heard and involved.I hope he comes out of hiding. It’s either you couldn’t keep him from the TV cameras or you don’t hear a peep when you need to hear more of his “local vision” we had never heard before. How about a town-meeting style gathering with regular people and local advertisers to sound off and size each other up.Saving the Globe and Herald ties into how to reinject life into this town without that crappy $10,000 stint.It isn’t about the money or high housing costs or any other complaint. It is about little ways to make things happen and make the town feel hip and special again. ( we won’t talk about the 800-pound 5-term gorilla in the room here today.)I don’t hear anyone complaining about high Manhattan prices, or London or Tokyo or Paris or Chicago or Frisco or Miami or Vegas. It isn’t about housing costs: that’s a smokescreen and an easy excuse for whiners like Carr, who sits on a lot of property ironically.It’s all in the thinking and Mr Allis put his finger on it.N.

  2. jvwalt

    I realize that newspapers are caught in a squeeze, what with ad revenue falling and sales declining. But in a very fundamental sense, their response is the embodiment of dumb: They continue to make their product less and less appealing to consumers. Can’t anyone come up with an alternative strategy? Bueller? I’ve lived in New England for seven years, and the Globe has just gotten worse and worse. I keep buying it, partly out of habit and partly because of the lack of an alternative. And I like having a paper to read, rather than a website to browse. (If I ate my breakfast over my keyboard every day, how long before it falls victim to the Pepsi — or in this case, Coffee — Syndrome? When I arrived in the region, the Globe was an outstanding paper. Now, to be charitable, it’s a good paper. How long before it’s pure compost?

  3. Dan Kennedy

    jvwalt: You’ve got to evaluate Boston.com. If you find it wanting, then that’s a problem. But I’m sorry, you can’t evaluate the print edition alone. Those days are over, whether you like it or not.

  4. Danny L. McDaniel

    This is all about the bottom line. If the paper sales as a good newspaper than a great one that is what the top management will do. Before it’s over the Globe will read like the average high school paper: fluffy, gossip and current events. There will be nothing containing indepth reporting and demographics. A very sad commentary to make about a still great newspaper!Whatever happened to journalistic pride?Danny L. McDanielLafayette, Indiana

  5. Anonymous

    So the Globe doesn’t have enough cash to keep open a single foreign or domestic bureau (those closed years ago), but the mighty Times can pay for two of its reporters to relocate to northern California simply to make room for a new D.C. bureau chief. It’s all internal politics and it’s another reason both papers are in big trouble.

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