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

Have you seen the Globe today?

To borrow from an old advertising campaign.

Our phenomenal delivery guy of some 20 years’ standing, Brent, is gone. The paper arrived late yesterday, and as of 9 a.m. today, it’s still not here. So, for the second morning in a row, I’ve read the paper strictly online, propping open my MacBook while eating breakfast.

Warning: I could get used to this.

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Online Journalism Review goes offline


What a game! What a season!


  1. Anonymous

    EB3 here,you didn’t miss anything. Sox won. Celts did too.

  2. jhall

    I hear you, DanI’m old school too, and always liked the printed paper. But over the past three months I’ve been doing a blog on the Beverly Schools & posting links to the Salem News stories on the subject as soon as they go online at 6:00, which is long before I get the actual paper. Only reason I even look at the paper now is to see how they played a certain story, which is often not clear from the online placement.I often wonder why I’m still shelling out for the printed version.Just keep your coffee away from you MacBook. Trust me, it does a lot more damage to a MacBook than newsprint.

  3. Anonymous

    It’s interesting. Most of the discussion about the death of old media focuses on content/editorial. But in reality, the declines on the business side have probably hurt the industry even more.Question: What up and coming sales or business people are clamoring to get into newspapers or radio or television? Answer: None, and there haven’t been any for a long, long time.I think the coverage of the death of these industries focuses on journalists because their skills don’t quite so neatly transfer to other businesses and most of them are pretty passionate about their business (and of course, journalists are in charge of the coverage). But on the business side, if you are a circulation pro or a top sales performer or a finance wizard, you can pick up your skills and immediately land in another field with better pay. As bad as the brain drain has been on the content side, I suspect it’s been far worse on the business side, and that will have a much larger role in the death of big media than anything else.

  4. Larz

    Sign of the times: One reader (DK) doesn’t receive his paper, and the discussion turns again to the demise of the print medium. And coffee-sogged newsprint.One of the coffin nails of the p.m. Washington Star in 1981 was its inability to deliver the paper in a timely fashion, because the trucks were often tied up in traffic. Other nails included union problems and mismanagement by Time, Inc.— Larz

  5. mike_b1

    I stopped getting the Globe at home during the winter of 2006-07 because they kept telling me it was snowing too hard to deliver it, and I got tired of looking at my snowless, paperless driveway.

  6. Ari Herzog

    Gone?!? Did he moved to a different territory, or *gasp* leave the industry for a different job? Or do you mean he…no, I don’t want to go there. During high school one weekend, I helped out the Big Yellow folks and distributed phone books in my town. It didn’t have to be an early morning routine, but I was given a route and told to drop off one book per delivery address.That was the closest I came to being a newspaper delivery boy.

  7. Anonymous

    Rather than swiping at the unions, as some are wont to do, I see this as an issue of companies being penny wise and dollar foolish. The Globe and the Herald no longer have union people delivering the paper, and whether that’s good or bad is not the subject of this post. So, the papers hire immigrants (legal, we hope!) to deliver the paper, pay them as independent contractors, which– trust me– means shockingly low wages, give them no benefits and expect them to show up in all kinds of weather no matter if they are sick or healthy, and then they wonder why there’s lots of turnover, and why the paper gets there sometimes and sometimes not. I’ve had a carrier who was wonderful and never missed a day, but eventually I assume she got tired of the daily grind and the low wages, and the next person wasn’t nearly as reliable. That is a weak link in the current distribution model– the papers are delivered by low wage immigrants trying to work their way out of poverty. (And how do I know? I’m a late-nght person, so I’m still awake at 5 AM sometimes when they arrive with the paper, and I’ve chatted with several of the deliverers. It is not a union gig anymore (and please don’t get me wrong– I am not claiming things were better in the good old days, but we did seem to get our paper more reliably!)The local papers are shedding all sorts of jobs, both union and otherwise, in an effort to save money, which is certainly a laudable goal, although I’m not sure it’s gonna work. For example, the Globe and the Herald have quietly jobbed some of their formerly local subscriber services overseas to India.)I hope the home delivery problems do get worked out because I too look forward to reading the actual print edition, even if I can go on line for the updated stories and breaking news.I understand newspapers trying to be more efficient, but I am not sure the current model makes the paper better, nor does it do much for the home delivery subscribers.

  8. io saturnalia!

    As someone who works at a community newspaper, let me just say amen to a few of the posters here. My paper has fine journalistic quality (that is, whenever there’s anything approaching a decent-sized news hole) but crap customer service (missed deliveries and service personnel scheduled to leave within half an hour of the delivery-time guarantee) and lagging ad sales are killing the product. The still-and-possibly-forever-burgeoning online journalism model has less to do with our troubles (my paper’s and the industry’s) than bad business practices.

  9. mike_b1

    Anon 1:17: Do you mean delivery to homes? Did union members really do home deliveries? I didn’t grow up in Boston, but lived there 5+ years as an adult, and I’ve also lived in various cities in Illinois and Maryland, plus Milwaukee and Providence and have never seen anything but a kid or a mom in a station wagon doing home drops.

  10. Anonymous

    As long as we’re critiquing the Globe, let me add my two cents about their concept of headlines. On the editorial page of today’s Globe, there is a piece about the safety of food, the government’s role through the FDA, and the recent issue with some fresh tomatoes causing salmonella poisoning. What gets my dander up is the use of “Attack of the iller tomatoes” as the headline to the editorial. What does that even mean, and where on the spectrum of intelligent writing does that fall? I understand what they’re trying to get at, but I thought that a paper’s editorial page was an expression of it’s most articulate thoughts on an issue of interest. I don’t want to even speculate whose attention they are trying to attract with the ‘Attack of the iller tomatoes’ headline, but the end result isn’t something they should be proud of, let alone admit to. They should know better. If this is what they are resorting to in an attempt to brighten their paper and attract more readers, they’ve dumbed it down too far, and are losing readers on the other end.

  11. Peter Porcupine

    Anon – HA! I don’t know what’s gotten into headline writers, but they’ve gone tabloid and punny.Last election, I wrote a piece about candidate questionnaires from various groups, and said that the MTA in particular couched their questions in terms of ‘Have you stopped beating your wift yet’, and that they were slanted to extract meaningless soundbites from candidates, etc.’Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife Yet’ became the headline of the article!

  12. Michael Pahre

    Put the Globe’s customer service number on speed-dial. I do, and use it more often than the Globe would care to know. You should have your paper by 6 am on weekdays.

  13. Anonymous

    The Globe, Herald, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Metrowest Daily News and, I think, Investor’s Daily all use the delivery company PCF. One poster in this string was spot on when he/she wrote that the delivery now falls to a company that subcontracts to low-paid mostly immigrant workers trying to scrape together enough to climb out of poverty, and that was BEFORE gas hit $4-plus per gallon. Imagine making minimum wage to delivery newspapers at ungodly hours in all kinds of weather, while paying to fill your own tank. It’s a system built for failure and daily newspapers are shooting themselves in their own feet for going this route, all to save a few bucks. Cut news staff, reduce the news hole, shrink the width of the paper, refer people to the web for more news. It doesn’t take long for the consumer with 50 cents or a buck in her/his hand to put it back in the pocket and head to Starbucks to read the paper – or another, possibly more nimble and informative web site – online. God I hate to see this happen, but newspaper companies’ wounds are in large part self=inflicted.

  14. Aaron Read

    One of the coffin nails of the p.m. Washington Star in 1981 was its inability to deliver the paper in a timely fashion, because the trucks were often tied up in traffic. Perhaps they should’ve learned the same lesson that UPS did.

  15. Amusedbutinformedobserver

    Apparently, gasoline prices are a bigger threat to traditional media than all the digital this and that that is slowly taking over delivery of content.It isn’t hard to give up the printed copies. But in the times I have read a paper on-line, I notice I don’t read as much of it. I click a story and then sometimes get swept away in a subject-oriented click-fest that brings me far away from “reading the paper.” Real, printed newspapers draw me into reading about things that five words of hypertext simply can’t. I usually read it on-line and bring a copy from the local store in the (remote) hope that if the paper version is hanging around, the kids will take a look while yelling at their sibling to get off the computer so they can log on and waste their lives sending brilliant passages such as “IDK” to alleged friends through these instant message programs (which are to social discourse as the designated hitter is to baseball, or, dare I say it, as the three-point field goal is to basketball: The triumph of the quick and easy over attainment of well-rounded skills.)The cost of delivery conundrum is actually little more than modern day replication of the high economic decision-making that saw me weighing the economic utility of repairing the bicycle I left to the mercy of the Ford Country Squire wagon in a suburban driveway in order to continue my paper route of 21 Evening Globes, 4 Travelers, 3 Daily Evening Items and one day-late Daily Times(this being prior to the Haggertys’ discovery of the joys of a zoned daily)Ultimately, though, the big issue is how to pay for the journalism, which, for the present, is dependent on placing advertising before the eyes of consumers, the one advantage that traditional media — be it print or broadcast — has over click ‘n read. Digital media simply can’t afford journalism that requires legwork. If I have a hard copy, I will see the full page ad for Jordan Marsh, Wm. Filene’s Sons, Gilchrist’s or Kennedy’s (whoops, wrong examples.) If I have digital, I will set my browser to save me from advertisements.The dilemma over production and delivery is anything but a simple issue, we want journalism but we want someone else to pay for it.

  16. Tim Allik

    Dan, I just got back from a week’s vacation to discover a substantial pile of yellowing Boston Globe papers piled up in front of my house. Thankfully a neighbor had piled them up neatly out of sight on our porch. Otherwise The Globe might as well have put a “ROB ME” sign on my front door. To his credit, our delivery man is always on time and the paper is dry. But we went through all the proper channels to cancel the paper, and they didn’t work. In my mind, the most powerful remaining justification for purchasing the print paper is the experience. That’s what they are selling, in the end — The experience of reading the paper. Coffee and sunrises and morning routines and all the rest. That means flawless customer service. Without it, there is little justification remaining for subscribing to the print (beyond coupons and circulars, if you’re into that sort of thing).

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