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

Why John Henry should dump Times content

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 2.07.20 PMThe New York Times Co. no longer owns The Boston Globe. Now is the moment for new owner John Henry to take the next step: stop running Times content in his paper.

I’m suggesting this not because I dislike the Times. Rather, I’m suggesting it because the Globe’s best, most engaged readers are those who are most likely to read the Times, too. There’s nothing quite like reading the Globe and coming across a shortened Times story on a national or international event to make you feel like you’re reading Times Lite.

For example: The story above, by New York Times reporter Robert Pear, takes up about 750 words at the top of page A2 in today’s Globe — and 1,170 words on page A18 of the Times.

For many years — even for the first decade or so of Times Co. ownership — the Globe never ran Times articles. Instead, the Globe supplemented its own coverage with journalism from wire services and from newspapers such as The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Somewhere along the line, though, someone at the Mother Ship decided the Times Co. could save money by running Times articles in the Globe. It’s hard to argue with the math — no matter how they did the accounting, it was essentially free content.

I don’t know how many people subscribe to both the Times and the Globe. The number may be very small. But those double subscribers tend to be journalists, community leaders and opinion makers — the very people Henry needs to court as he embarks on his new career as a newspaper owner.

Dumping the Times would serve as an emphatic statement that he intends to chart a new, independent course for the Globe.

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  1. Laurence Kranich

    If the Globe is going to charge $60 a month, they should give readers the best news sources possible, including the New York Times. Should they become a regional news source with a page of world news briefs? Maybe, but they should price themselves accordingly. I wouldn’t pay $2 every weekday if I needed to buy the Times also.

    Full-price 7-day delivery in Atlanta and Philadelphia is $30/month. At that price I could add on a NYT weekday or Sunday subscription, but there’s no way I’m going to pay $100 a month for two papers in Boston.

    Of course we don’t have to. We can buy the Sunday Globe and the weekday TImes and read them every day online, but I think the business model of the Globe still relies more on print subscribers than that solution.

  2. bobskole

    Dumping the Times would deprived Globe readers of America’s greatest
    single daily source of journalese.

    Bob Skole

    • Dan Kennedy

      Speaking of journalese, @bobskole … my students yesterday were gobsmacked by the use of “slay” and its various permutations to describe the Danvers High School killing earlier this week. They correctly observed something was inured to — it is a word you will not run into anywhere except in news writing. Certainly if you were sitting down and telling someone what happened, you would never use “slay.” Which means: bad writing.

      • Mike Benedict

        In a criticism of words readers encounter only in news writing, you use “gobsmacked,” “permutations” and — and this is the clincher — “Inured?”

        Dan, you slay me!

        • Dan Kennedy

          @Mike: I’ll give you “gobsmacked.” But “permutations” and “inured”? Used in all kinds of writing. Maybe they shouldn’t be used, but they certainly don’t qualify as journalese.

  3. Laurence Glavin

    If you’re referring to the verb “to slay”, it may be an infrequently used word. But I’ve read the noun “slaying”, as in “the Roxbury resident was the fourth slaying this month” many times. It seems better than “death” or “murder” and less technical than “homicide”.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Laurence: Yes, “slaying” is in the news all the time. Now, do you tell people about the latest slaying? No, I didn’t think so. It’s journalese.

  4. Andre Mayer

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the NYT, in pursuit of its own “world paper” strategy, decided to stop selling its content to others.

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