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

A righteous howl

Rory O’Connor has posted a rant about New York Times Co. management of the Boston Globe, picking up where Eileen McNamara left off. Whew!

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  1. mike_b1

    I think the complaints miss the points. While its understandable that Globe and other industry veterans are worried and frustrated, the premise of their argument is all wrong. The Globe DOES NOT have a fundamental right to exist. It exists at the pleasure and convenience of the NYT. The NYT owns them. Period. In other industries, a money-loser like the Globe would have been shuttered long ago. When Agilent decides it can’t make money from its electronics inspection division, it shuts it down, as it did a few months back. When Jabil decides its Billerica plant isn’t making enough money, it shuts it down. So I repeat: The Globe DOES NOT have a fundamental right to exist. Instead of whining about the NYT, Globies should be out doing anything they can to make money. But I know — it’s much, much easier to complain that the out-of-towners (NY, no less) are destroying you.

  2. Aaron Read

    On a related note, haven’t we been saying for years that as bad as having the NYTimes for a boss has been for the Globe, it could’ve easily been much, much worse had it been some other out-of-town owner or even a local owner?Has that paradigm finally been dropped? I get the feeling it has, but I’d like confirmation.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Aaron: No, I still think NYTCo ownership is better than other scenarios. Look at Tribune, McClatchy, Gannett, etc.With other ownership, the Globe might be in the black now — because it would have already been cut much more than it has been.There must be some truly toxic assets in there, because I still don’t see how a revenue drop from $700m to $524m over four years endangers the entire enterprise.

  4. NewsHound

    When the tide goes out we often see who has outgrown their bathing suit.Miss Robinson would strongly disagree that they didn’t properly prepare for the Internet. According to her address at Boston College, NYT Company is a successful leader.

  5. NewsHound

    Reinventing the newspaper – Janet Robinson successful style – – – – “Life is Good!”

  6. mike_b1

    Dan, even if the Globe can get to breakeven, there’s still the little matter of the debt repayments the NYT faces to cover the acquisition costs. Not sure how much they still owe on that, but if the Globe isn’t generating cash from operations to help service that debt, little else matters.

  7. NewsHound

    Whether or not the Globe continues to publish the debt continues to be payable, and a problem perhaps, so long as NYT does not go into bankruptcy.If operating at break even there is nothing to lose with the upside potential that business will recover to some degree when the economy recovers. Publishing or not, NYT is up the creek right now with the Globe.

  8. Chris Rich

    This is a two layer problem.The first shock when the thing was bought by the dim baby boomer son of the aulde NYT. The kid was full of himself and embarked on an utterly witless merger mania binge with the hapless Glob, Worcester Telegram and Hartford Courant in the crosshairs and probably paid for with borrowed ‘leverage’ money they didn’t really have.And junior was a chump and overpaid. It looked good on paper, just not news paper. That might have been fine if the world didn’t begin to move rapidly from print to pixels in real time at light speed.It might have been fine if Craig Newmark didn’t decide to give the world Craigslist. Bye Bye classified ad revenue.It might have been fine if the Google monster didn’t upend the whole atrocious conceit attending bundled content.You see web2 is ultra democratic on one level. Content makers can actually tell instantly in real time if their stuff does numbers, there is no mumbo jumbo. I can look at my analytics account every morning and see exactly what happened with blog readership the prior day.I can even apply keyword tricks and conversion plans to make my stuff more ubiquitous in a search engine and tell instantly how a person found me and much more stuff.I may not know a person’s name or address but I can tell that I got three reads from Arlington, 2 from Melbourne Australia and someone in Lahore.If the boomer NYT brat doofus didn’t do his typical boomer merger dance, the Glob would have at least had less of a momentum burden but it would still have mainly provincial content with an occasional ‘hit’.It would still have been an underhanded middle brow ad pander pit but it would been, aah, ‘unencumbered’.Boston has been a miserable backwater since the 1820’s but it is a nice place for ruling elites to park their brats for schoolin’. There are few better trust fund roosts. And one will always make money pandering to the inclination to the comforts of mediocrity.Now it is in a terrible fix but the entire industry based on web presses, (I’ve worked in a few, really loud and awful), lots of paper pulp, truck fleets and all sorts of other utterly wasteful and stupid things now that we have an alternative.So some of you need to absorb masticated data from professional amateurs on the can and are web averse… fine, you are a dwindling minority.Do you still use a buggy whip or walk gaslit streets or find a port at night by limelight? Didn’t think so. We can’t keep trees chewed, web presses roaring, predawn trucks running and all that cumbersome crap for a dwindling luddite handful. We have pixels now and can cross check every sentence any ‘journalist’ (professional amateur)writes six ways to Sunday.If your stuff is crap like less accurate than Reuters or less entertaining than others who uphold our favorite biases, you are very expendable.That Toffler fellow made a big deal about ‘Future Shock’ and Andras Grofs, (Andy Groves) at Intel wrote compellingly about critical inflection points but the pro-amateur couldn’t generally be bothered to read the signs everywhere. A Glob attempt to belatedly emulate Salon is probably doomed. There is still a total correlation between ad revenue and content but the content better be superb.And superb content is a rare thing that the NYT can barely manage.Superb Content is Juan Cole sharing his years of Middle East lore and analysis directly with all of us. We can read James Galbraith directly in real time at light speed or Susan Faludi or any real depth master of real information and most of us can filter out the car crashes, shootings or other cluttered distractions and cut to the chase. The real problem is that there is barely much need for ‘journalism’ as it has been generally practiced since Watergate. It is a mediocre and lazy field most of the time.

  9. mike_b1

    Chris, if you are putting that much faith in Google Analytics, I have a bridge to sell you.

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