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

Mike Sheehan addresses Globe home-delivery meltdown

My WGBH News colleague Jim Braude interviewed Boston Globe chief executive Michael Sheehan tonight on Greater Boston about the Globe‘s home-delivery meltdown. Among other things, Sheehan says he expects the situation to be largely solved in 30 to 45 days—not four to six months. Watch the whole thing, but below are some highlights provided by WGBH.

• Sheehan responded to speculation that some Globe staffers would be losing their jobs:

BRAUDE: More than one person said to me that when you were hired to do this job, you made clear that you didn’t want to be responsible for things where you didn’t have experience, like distribution. Is that true? Is it true that you had that conversation with John Henry?

SHEEHAN: Yeah, circulation is not part of my—

BRAUDE: So who is responsible for this mess if not you?


BRAUDE: But who is the person who’s in charge who’s responsible for this?

SHEEHAN: We have a team of people in charge of it, but I’m the CEO, and I’m accountable for it.

BRAUDE: Ultimately you’re saying it stops at your desk. But whoever made the decision, is he or she still going to be working at the paper?


BRAUDE: Nobody’s fired?

SHEEHAN: It was a group decision—

BRAUDE: No discipline for anybody?


• Sheehan also commented on the backlash from subscribers:  

BRAUDE: You were a messaging guru in your former life. What’s the message that you’re going to convey to those angry subscribers, now and when you subscribe their service, that reestablishes that bond?

SHEEHAN: We’re sorry. We’re incredibly, deeply sorry that this happened. And we’re going to fix it. We appreciate their business. We appreciate the bond. When you go to someone’s house, and they’re shut in, and they tell you that “this is my lifeline to the world,” and they’re not getting it, we cannot disappoint people like that. And we won’t.

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  1. David Jerome

    Didn’t believe a word from Mr.Sheehan. I’m less hopeful now than I was before. And it’s not just Newton and Pembroke that are having problems.

  2. Ace Foulds

    We are still waiting in Reading.

  3. Al Quint

    … got it yesterday. Back to no delivery today in Peabody. Sheehan is full of you-know-what.

  4. Christopher Barber

    I found his response to be insincere and is utterly inadequate. He needs to do much more than get back to some semblance of the former service. He needs to make it up to the subscribers with significant discounts. I canceled out subscription, and as much as we would like to get the paper again, we are not going to resubscribe unless the Globe does much more than say “sorry, here is a credit for the paper we didn’t deliver”. Hopefully they will figure this out before too many people figure out they can live just fine without the paper.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Christopher: I agree that his response was inadequate. Four to six weeks isn’t going to cut it, although it’s better than four to six months. But insincere? I thought he seemed genuinely anguished.

      • Ernie Kahane

        Dan, I understand the the insincerity attribution. Sheehan tried to portray himself as managing a defined problem space – it’s primarily Newton and Pembroke. Of course, problem is much wider than that. For those of us outside Sheehan’s problem space – feeling invisible – he seemed arrogant and clueless.

        • Dan Kennedy

          @Ernie: Sheehan was referring to multiple communities served by the Newton and Pembroke distribution centers. But I do agree that the problems go well beyond those two regions, and that the non-delivery rate is almost certainly well in excess of the 5 percent and 10 percent figures he’s used.

      • Christopher Barber

        His posture of extreme discomfort at the position he has put himself into was definitely sincere. You could see him physically flinch when Jim Braude asked him about his desire to avoid responsibility for circulation (I felt that he was considering whether or not he could get away with lying and decided against it). I have no doubt that he feels bad about how this looks, but I feel that he is utterly insincere in his “apology” to subscribers. The best he can promise is that he will eventually “fix” delivery. I see absolutely no effort to actually make it up to subscribers. The very best we can hope for is that some months from now we will eventually get back the service we used to get – but only if we are lucky in our new paper carrier.

        If he was genuinely sorry, then why hasn’t he made any effort to reach out to those of us who have cancelled our subscriptions?

  5. Douglas Ruby

    Dan, apparent new Globe policy. In addition to the day for day credit to my account for non delivery (9 days). I called and got to customer service in less than 3 minutes. Since I am paid up through 1/9/2016, I didn’t intend to cancel but to test the system for cancellation. Instead of cancelling, I was offered a 12 week 35% discount from $57.35/month to $37.28/month! So here is a very real cost to the Globe to retain subscribers, a 35% devaluation of the subscriber revenue for the duration of the crisis!

    • Christopher Barber

      That’s an improvement. When I cancelled my subscription the man just said he was sorry to lose us but didn’t offer anything other than credits for my lost papers. He also sounded pretty glum, and I got the impression from his demeanor that I was far from the first to have cancelled.

    • I won’t bring a paper to your house either, Mr. Ruby. And I’ll only charge you $50 a month.

  6. A more honest explanation would have been: “Oh well. Shit happens.” Of course, I was way ahead of the curve in dropping the Globe for crap delivery service. Welcome to the party!

  7. Victor DeRubeis

    Short of resigning, which would be the right thing to do when and if this blows over, I want to know how Mr. Sheehan plans to punish himself economically for the economic hardships he has caused, and will cause, the people who work for him.

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