Tomorrow morning, for the first time in more than 30 years, we won’t be looking for the Boston Globe on our front walkway. Last night I took a rather momentous step — I canceled home delivery of the Monday-to-Saturday print edition, leaving us only with the Sunday paper.
Why did we do this? It’s been inevitable since early this summer, when the Globe made a couple of important changes in its distribution model. First, it unveiled GlobeReader, an electronic paper that’s a faster and easier read than the Web edition. Second, it raised the price of its print edition.
Seven-day home delivery of the Globe now costs $46.56 a month in Media Nation. With advertising in what may be a permanent decline, readers are going to have to pick up more of the cost, so I certainly don’t fault the Globe for charging more. But our family is not immune from economic pressures. For us, it makes sense to go with paper on Sundays and use GlobeReader the rest of the week.
By canceling the daily Globe, are we contributing to the paper’s financial woes? We thought long and hard about that before making our decision. The Globe remains the most important news organization in Greater Boston. Civic life would be much poorer without it.
We would not have canceled the paper if the only alternative was to read it on the Web. Like virtually all newspapers, the Globe is struggling with its decision some dozen year ago to offer its content online for free. At one time, newspaper executives assumed that advertising revenues would eventually justify that decision. It didn’t happen — it may never happen — and the way out of that morass is unclear. We were not about to contribute to that pain.
But Globe executives presumably had their eyes wide open when they unveiled GlobeReader in the midst of a recession and made it available to anyone with Sunday home delivery. Clearly, the idea was to preserve the Sunday edition at all costs. I’ve been told that the Sunday paper accounts for as much as 60 percent of the paper’s revenues. So no, I don’t feel guilty about taking advantage of the Globe’s new business strategy.
Although this was not an overriding factor, it’s also true that electronic delivery is far better for the environment.
Is our move to GlobeReader permanent? Not necessarily. Mrs. Media Nation, whose affinity for old-fashioned print is stronger than mine, is interning at a school library this fall as she works her way toward a master’s. Once that’s over, depending on her schedule, we may resume print.
But if the folks at the Globe are going to offer a variety of electronic-distribution options (not just the Web and GlobeReader, but the Kindle and a mobile cellphone edition, too), we’re going to take advantage of them. I can only hope that they know what they’re doing.