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

The Globe’s opinion pages beef up

Joshua Green

A year ago, the biggest question at the Boston Globe was whether the New York Times Co. was serious about shutting it down if it couldn’t squeeze out $20 million in union concessions.

These days, the story is considerably more pleasant. Though no one thinks the Globe is entirely out of the woods (there is, after all, a revolution under way), the paper keeps expanding in modest but useful ways.

The latest initiative is coming tomorrow: a weekly column on the op-ed page by the Atlantic’s fine political writer, Joshua Green, who, according to Globe editorial-page editor Peter Canellos, will offer a Washington perspective from a non-ideological perspective.

“He’s a pure reporter and analyst,” Canellos says. “And I think that for somebody looking at the changing landscape of Washington these days, this is a happy meeting of a writer and subject, because it’s a fascinating time.”

This coming Sunday will mark a significant expansion of the opinion pages. For years, the Globe has published a third opinion page, reserved for letters, every other week. Now the paper will publish three and four pages on an alternating schedule.

Newish op-ed columnists Joanna Weiss and Lawrence Harmon will join standbys Joan Vennochi and Jeff Jacoby. Harmon, the Globe’s chief editorial writer on city issues, will continue to write his column once a week. Weiss will now write twice weekly, picking up Harmon’s Tuesday slot.

On weeks when there are four opinion pages, Canellos says, the extra space will be used for features such as “visual op-eds” by cartoonist Dan Wasserman and longer essays by columnist James Carroll and other writers.

Finally, Canellos says that a somewhat nebulous new online feature called “The Angle” will be beefed up with some definition and some original content as the result of a new partnership with “Radio Boston,” which WBUR (90.9 FM) is expanding from a weekly to a daily program next week.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. This is really good news. Any expansion of serious opinion writing – as opposed to talking heads on tv and cable and bleeding of opinion into print and electronic news coverage – is a worthwhile endeavor. Congratulations to Peter Canellos for moving in this direction!
    Margie Arons-Barron

  2. B.A. DuBois

    Nice to see the Globe spiff up its Op-Ed pages, which are usually a snooze fest…

    But for the love of all that’s Holy, must we suffer more columns from James Carroll? The man hasn’t had an original thought or column in years…. how to write a James Carroll column:

    1. I didn’t get along with my dad.

    2. Dad was in the military.

    3. I hate the military.

    4. And don’t particularly like the U.S.

    Mix and match and presto, you too, can write a James Carroll column!

    • Dan Kennedy

      @B.A.: I never read James Carroll. But I find him useful, since I can always point to him as an example of someone so far to the left that even I find his views offensive.

  3. Stephen Pelletier

    Dan, If you don’t read James Carroll, how do you know what his views are? I’m constantly amused by the Carroll bashers who say his pieces are simplistic (like B.A. above); I find his columns intelligent, nuanced and, more often than not, incisive.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Stephen: I used to read Carroll all the time. I still try. Sometimes.

  4. Susan Ryan-Vollmar

    This is great news. Sounds like the changes are all for the better. I am not a fan of James Carroll, largely because he’s much too predictable (as B.A. points out). And that is boring. But Canellos has left some low-hanging fruit on the improvement tree: why does Jeff Jacoby still have space on those pages? He’s shrill, repetitive, and frequently at odds with the facts. Why not replace Jacoby with a talented opinion writer who takes interesting conservative lines on current events?

  5. BP Myers

    Susan Ryan-Vollmar said: why does Jeff Jacoby still have space on those pages? He’s shrill, repetitive, and frequently at odds with the facts.

    I’m hoping he stays around long enough for his kids to be old enough to fight in the wars he so longs for. I look forward to reading those columns.

    Should Republicans of his ilk have their way, his oldest ought to be eligible by the time we invade Iran.

    And don’t tell me his kids are off-limits. He writes about them all the time.

  6. Bill Hanna

    I read Carroll every week though I often think his viewpoint is too far to the left for me. I read him because he’s a thinker, a theorist even, and he frequently laces his columns with excellent historical context. I think his columns on the Catholic Church are excellent. I also regularly read Jacoby, because where else can I find unadulterated selfishness so celebrated? Where else, for example, can I find price gouging so vigorously defended in the midst of a water crisis, as his most recent column does?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Bill: What no one, including Jacoby, has reported is under what authority various public officials have been going after the price-gougers. The behavior is disgusting, but I’m aware of no law prohibiting someone for charging $50 for a gallon of water. Too bad there are laws against punching such a person in the jaw.

  7. L.K. Collins

    I applaud Canellos’ efforts to revitalize, even reinvigorate The Globe’s opinion pages. I look forward to seeing if they deliver on the implied promises.

    Less predictability, more diverse analyses and considered thought, even more contention are the hope.

    The lingering question, though, is why this sort of change is coming now, and the correlative question of why Editor Baron waited so long and allowed such a precipitous slide to continue for as long as he has?

    Is Baron on his way out?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Baron and Canellos are co-equals who both report to the new publisher, Chris Mayer.

  8. BP Myers

    @Dan Kennedy said: I’m aware of no law prohibiting someone for charging $50 for a gallon of water.

    The Massachusetts Price Gouging Law–all 141 words of it–covers but a single commodity.

    Hint: Ya can’t drink it.

    (See Section 3.18)

  9. L.K. Collins

    Whether or not they are co-equals are not the questions. The questions are why Baron weren’t willing to stop the slide sooner, and whether Baron may well be on his way out.

    This may also be a situation where one is more equal than the other, particularly if Canellos can pull off the majic trick.

    Canellos was good in his DC position; he appears to have shaken awake the editorial page. he appears willing to take on the challenges.

    I, for one, wish Canellos the best.

    As for Mr.Baron? I think it is time for him to let someone else take the editorial reins of The Globe and move to some other opportunity.

    Nothing against him either personally or professionally. It is just that growth required by his task and his skills in fulfilling the requirements as so far demonstrated are at odds. Admission of a bad fit is not an indictment of failure.

  10. Glen Bergendahl

    I’ve never read anything written by Joshua Green, but having read Dan’s piece, I now know where Green will reside on the political spectrum.

    Whenever an outlet such as “The Boston Globe” describes a writer as “non-ideological,” one can be sure more liberal twaddle is on the way.

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