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

More on the paperless Globe

In my latest for the Guardian, I flesh out my thoughts on cutting back home delivery of the Boston Globe to Sundays only and using GlobeReader on other days.

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  1. lkcape

    The bottom line, Dan, is that the daily subscription was not worth the money charged.

    That has been the growing problem for newspapers for some time now.

    This is neither new…or news.

  2. Treg

    Dan, I’ve been thinking this over since you announced your decision. And I’m gradually realizing that the thought of only having the Sunday paper to satisfy my need for actual, hold-it-in-your-hands newsprint isn’t so scary. What if they went electonic-only during the week, and still published the paper on Saturday and Sunday? Best of both worlds?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Treg: As you probably know, the Saturday edition has long been a problem for newspapers, so I can’t imagine the Globe would do that. It could try a “weekend edition” that would come out on Saturday, I suppose.

      Certainly if things don’t improve sufficiently, the Globe will have to consider publishing just three or four days a week. The problem is that if it forces the issue, a lot of people will just stop reading altogether.

  3. Back in May, after a weekend trip to Florida, I wrote the following on my blog:

    “As an aside, the Miami Herald has gone to a Saturday/Sunday hybrid edition. I noticed it when I was there recently for a wedding. My brothers and sisters, who are in their 20s, don’t subscribe to the newspaper. So, I went daily to the little bodega down the street to get the Herald. On Saturday morning, there was the hybrid edition – at only 50 cents! It included Saturday news on the front plus the guts of the Sunday newspaper – flyers, real estate, Parade, etc. Wow. Not only a bargain but I actually had a chance to skim through the thing before the wedding. Very cool idea.”

    The NH Union Leader has also combined its Friday and Saturday editions in parts of the state.

  4. LFNeilson

    But what of the kid on the balloon-tire bike with the large basket on the handlebars — he who would land the paper on your porch roof, behind the shrubs or, heaven forbid, in front of the door? Sure, he grew up to be a software engineer, but now he needs his old job (and his bicycle) back. Any tips? Can he get a job delivering laptops?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Larz: The Globe switched to all adult carriers years ago.

  5. LFNeilson

    I know that. The Globe did away with one of its best assets — an army of neighborhood kids wanting to make money. The lazy jerks in Circulation decided it was too much trouble to manage those kids. How many subscribers do those drivers sign up?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Larz: We wouldn’t cancel the Salem News anyway, but one reason is that we don’t want to hurt the kid who’s delivering it. So yes, there you go.

  6. Karl

    You’re feeling pangs of guilt for a reason, Dan. You just wrote an article, 50% of which was simply how to game the system. $3.50/wk and your share of the Sunday advertising revenue is not covering your share of the costs, and you know it!

    Retreating to a position that Globe executives presumably know what they are doing is pretty lame. Hey, I can currently put my subscription on recurring six month vacation holds and have full access to Globe Reader. “Who (am I) not to take advantage of that?”

    • Dan Kennedy

      Retreating to a position that Globe executives presumably know what they are doing is pretty lame.

      I hope you realize what a remarkable statement that is, Karl.

      I hardly think signing up for an option that the Globe offers quite explicitly is the same as messing around with the vacation policy.

      And I worked through my guilt before switching to Sundays-only.

  7. Karl

    Dan, if the Globe does indeed state explicitly somewhere that Globe Reader is available to Sunday only subscribers, I’ll agree with you.

    Otherwise, you’re just playing with a pricing policy in a beta program that has yet to be fully sussed out. Again, this is little different than accessing Globe Reader while you are on vacation hold.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Bob: What is not explicit about the Globe’s pricing policies? By the way, read my post today for more on why this makes sense for the Globe — not just for the Kennedys.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Karl: By the way, the New York Times charges $14.95 a month for Times Reader, but makes it freely available to all subscribers, including Sundays-only subscribers. And it’s not in beta. Also, after I first wrote in June that the strategy behind GlobeReader seemed to be aimed at preserving the Sunday print edition, a source on the corporate side told me I had described the strategy accurately.

      So I think I understand the Times Co.’s goal with GlobeReader pretty well. Maybe the next owner will disagre.

  8. amused

    The Globe did try an all-weekend edition about ten years ago, the Bulldog or something like that. Until the late 60s or so, the Evening Globe published a 10-page Saturday P.M. An all-weekend edition means either distributing editions with deadlines 24 hours apart getting the Sunday out early and leaving news out — but there’s a lot of politics that breaks Saturday so that it gets talked about on the Sunday shows and thus becomes a Monday hedline. There’s also the issue of sports news

    Meanwhile Alabama teachers’ unions and other ‘Bama public retirees just breathed a sigh of relief knowing that it has saved one subscription to the Beverly Times (d/b/a since 1995 as the Salem News in order to bust the Guild.)

    • Dan Kennedy

      Amused: Nice to know that there’s at least one other person who understands the Salem News is really the Beverly Times. There were some union problems, to be sure, but the real impetus was that after Ottaway (which owned the Beverly Times) acquired the Salem News, they realized the News was the stronger brand.

  9. LFNeilson

    45 years ago, the Sunday Globe was available in a bulldog edition on Sat. evening. I used to sell it at Rockingham Park. Of course, at the track, the Sunday Advertiser outsold the Globe 3 to 1, since it carried “the numbers”. But every time I went to the track, I made money.

  10. amused

    No doubt the Salem Evening News was the stronger brand.

    But the creation of the new company and merger of the Salem property into a new Massachusetts holding company for the existing Ottaway properties was clearly a union bust. Legal, but union-busting.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Amused: Mrs. Media Nation was a staff photographer at the Beverly Times at the time of the sale. There was some union-busting going on, for sure. But the decision to take the Salem News name was a no-brainer from a business point of view, and had nothing to do with the union. Haven’t read the lawsuit you linked to, but if that’s what the union said, they were wrong. Whatever anti-union activities management engaged in could have just as easily been indulged if the Beverly Times name had been chosen instead.

  11. Karl

    Mea maxima culpa.

    In my 9/24 message I was looking for something explicit stating that 7 day a week Globe Reader was available to Sunday only subscribers. All I could find were references about GR being available “to subscribers.” I thought the Sunday-only loophole was an oversight in a product that is still identified as “Preview.”

    Well, in sifting through the GR FAQ’s trying to figure out why I can’t get today’s edition, I came across this statement: “Home Delivery subscribers to The Boston Globe (i.e. 7-day, weekend, Sunday only, weekday only) are eligible to receive the GlobeReader as part of their newspaper subscription.”

    I suppose that meets my definition of explicit.

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