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

Taking a pass on the Ted Kennedy series

No, I’m not reading the Boston Globe’s Ted Kennedy series, either. As a 50-something political junkie, I don’t need yet another overview of Kennedy’s life and career, no matter how comprehensive and well-executed it is. And I’ll assume it’s quite good.

For me, the more interesting question is this: Who’s the intended audience? Clearly the timing is based on Kennedy’s terminal illness. Kennedy has been much in the news, and there are probably a lot of younger people out there who don’t know that much about him.

Can the Globe lure the under-30s in with an effort like this? I suspect it’s a tough sell, although anyone who doesn’t know much about Kennedy ought to spend some time with the Globe series.

Not to be morbid, but the Globe has also positioned itself well for Kennedy’s death, both with its online multimedia package and an accompanying book, “Last Lion,” edited by Washington bureau chief Peter Canellos.

But I agree with Mr. Outraged Liberal: Right now, the series isn’t generating any buzz at all.

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Another assault on free speech


The two most successful papers in the U.S. Really.


  1. Peter Porcupine

    DK – I had assumed the series was an infomercial for the book. Aren’t Globe reporters the authors?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    PP: That’s one hell of an infomercial. If you read the whole series, are you really going to want the few additional facts that the book might contain?

  3. stephanie

    I’m one of those under-30. I’ve tried to read the series, but have only read 2 so far. At first glance I thought it was excessive fawning over Teddy. Though, I did find the Chappaquiddick piece pretty interesting — I didn’t know that story at all. Not sure what the paper hopes to accomplish with the series, other than making sure they were the first to have this type of indepth profile ready to go in case Kennedy passed away.

  4. mcough4

    I acknowledge much of what’s been said about the timing and the audience.I am reading it online at night…way too long to read on the train to Boston in the morning. It’s very good, though not much new. But it gave me chills to listen to his DNC speech in 1980 again.I would point out that the last two installments, which we haven’t had a chance to read yet, will be interesting as they discuss his place in the historical context of the Bush and Obama presidencies. Again, nothing new but a fitting coda. Maybe they should have waited until after he died???

  5. HNG

    I admire the Kennedys, but Ted and others are oveexposed, and I couldn’t stop even for one second to glance at the Globe series. Regarding Stephanie’s note: How could anyone–even someone under thirty–not know about Chappaquiddick? Maybe the Kennedy’s aren’t overexposed after all!

  6. Peter Porcupine

    DK – Perhaps THIS sort of language is what made me think the series wan infomercial – “As Peter S. Canellos and his team of Boston Globe reporters show in this revealing and intimate biography… Usually, you’d be all over something like this as conflict of interest, given the paper has a commercial interest in the newly published book. Has the series made any mention of the interest?They are trying to peddle the book on their web site, though. Here’s a link to the Boston Globe Store – course, as you say, why buy the book – but who ever accused the Globe of clever marketing? They can’t even choose a book title that isn’t copying somebody else, he said as he reopened The Last Lion by William Manchester, an excellent biography of Winston Churchill, who is now apparently a mere Lion in the Sand.

  7. Neil

    I recently volunteered at a library book sale. One of the tasks is to toss as many old books out as new donated/discarded ones coming in so the storage room isn’t inundated. So you get rid of ones you don’t think anybody will buy. I tossed out dozens of books about the Kennedys, leaving plenty leftover still, which of course nobody bought. Now here’s another to add to the pile. Just now got email too about this new Canellos et al tome from the Boston Globe Store. Which got me to unsubscribe. Like others I’m a fan of Ted Kennedy but don’t understand why the Globe devoted such resources to a book that will obviously soon be added to the remainder pile. Why not investigate a fresh topic?

  8. NewsHound

    I consider the series superficial, in particular the chapter on Chappaquiddick, considering that so many important facts are missing.

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