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

Apocalypse now? Or maybe later?

Newspaper analyst and blogger Alan Mutter argues that the New York Times Co.’s $20 million demand isn’t that big a deal, and that the Boston Globe may have hurt its prospects by playing up the story beyond its importance. He writes:

The story not only was vastly overplayed but also may serve to unnecessarily damage the newspaper’s already weakened business. The editors, who evidently let emotion overcome their news judgment, should have known better.

To which new-media advocate Jeff Jarvis replies: “Was this a negotiating move? Of course. But it’s a credible threat.”

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  1. NewsHound

    Agreed. Edmund Arnold’s theory of a dominant head on every page is not always warranted. We don’t want to see the Globe die, but this is not the attack on Pearl Harbor, either. A one-column head below the fold with a different lead would have been more appropriate. Certainly the Globe shouldn’t hide behind the economic struggles of smothered advertising revenue, but it shouldn’t shoot itself in the foot either if it wants to finish the walk with dignity.

  2. Outraged Liberal

    I will cut the Globe some slack on the story placement. Given the buzz on the blogs starting the previous afternoon, they would have looked darn foolish underplaying it. The Herald certainly didn’t.As Adam reported, the union seemed to have no intention of leaking the company’s negotiating position. As I mentioned over on my spot, it all comes down to explosion of outlets for news — and rumors. If it’s out there, might as well give people what they want.

  3. Paul Levy

    I’m not competent to address the journalistic question of story placement, but I don’t see that the headlines will weaken the Globe’s business. The choice of a business to advertise or not advertise is usually a short-term choice based on current circulation and ad impact. It is not generally a long-term commitment that would be affected by a concern over the paper’s long-term prospects.(Having said that I am not professionally competent to address the placement issue, I offer my man-on-the-street opinion that this was certainly a big enough story to warrant that headline and placement.)

  4. O-FISH-L

    Downplaying the story would have been tantamount to questioning the credibility of the parent NY Times Corporation, no? When a 130 something year-old Boston institution is threatened with extinction by its parent, and D-Day is in 30 days, I think that deserves prominent play. Like I said a week or two ago though, this reminds me of the diabetic who needs a leg amputated but the surgeon says, “Let’s start with a couple of toes.” I think the constant cutting, instead of one massive cut, has done irreparable harm.Paul, what if you were embarking on an ad buy for the next eight weekends and you found out the paper might only have 30 days? Would you possibly hold off? Just wondering.

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