The Boston Globe is headed for another round of buyouts

The Boston Globe is once again downsizing its newsroom, according to an email sent to the staff from editor Brian McGrory earlier this morning and obtained by Media Nation.

We’ll have to see how this plays out. But one intriguing theme is the idea that this comes at what McGrory calls “an inflection point.” The newsroom and business operations will be moving downtown early next year, a new printing plant is coming online in Taunton, and the “reinvention effort” McGrory announced a few weeks ago will soon yield results.

The optimistic spin would seem to be that the Globe of the future will soon be in place, and that if everything works according to plan, there should be no further need for cuts. A pessimist might observe that the newspaper business continues to shrink. But let’s hope owner John Henry and company can overcome the prevailing trend.

McGrory’s email:

Hey all,

Yet again in the world’s worst-kept secret category, we plan to put another buyout on the table, probably by the end of this week. These things aren’t really meant to be a secret. They just take a while to come together, despite our vast experience with them.

There’s no complicated math involved. There’ll be two weeks for every year of service, with the package capped at a year’s pay. Everyone in the newsroom will get an offer. The company reserves the right, as with all prior buyouts, to reject anyone who puts in for it.

To the obvious question of why, as in, why again, why so soon after the prior buyout of last autumn, the answer is pretty straightforward: The Globe’s numbers aren’t as good as our words (or photos, videos, and graphics). So we need to take down costs across the company, an exercise that virtually all other news organizations in the nation, legacy and digital-only, are focused on right now. Other parts of this building are doing this as well.

This particular buyout is being offered as the Globe arrives at an inflection point, which is why I’m hopeful that it will work well for a portion of our room.

First, we’re moving downtown come January 1. While this is great for the organization, on a personal level, commutes will be different, rituals disrupted, and parking will no longer be free and easy. Second, we’re undertaking a reinvention initiative that will in all likelihood lead to a profoundly different approach to a good part of our work. Everybody in this room should be prepared for their jobs to change in ways that may be significant. Change is as exhausting as it is exhilarating, and some people have had enough. We respect that, and are offering this enticement now so we can all be prepared going forward. To be very clear here: This will be the last buyout before the move downtown.

For those who plan to stay, please know this: There are fascinating times ahead. We can curse the economic problems that have beset the entire industry, and guilty as charged: I’ve done more than enough of that myself. But at the same time, we can and should feel privileged to be part of any solutions. Between a new printing facility in Taunton that will produce papers far sharper than anything in our history, to new offices downtown that will put us in the flow of this city, to the surge in readership on bg.com, the success in digital subscriptions, and the consistently amazing journalism that you produce day after day in the face of ferocious industry forces, there’s not a newsroom in this nation better positioned to succeed than ours. None of it is easy. All of it is vital – and noble. We, meaning you, can do this. You already are.

I’ll be in the Winship Room today at 11, 2, and 6 to talk a bit more, take your questions, and hear what’s on your mind.

Brian

8 thoughts on “The Boston Globe is headed for another round of buyouts

  1. ralphranalli

    This is the slow-motion denouement of the corporate takeover of news industry. Changing journalism to save a dying business model instead of changing the business model to save journalism.

    1. Sharon Simonson

      I am visiting Boston now from the SF Bay Area. All indications are that Boston is booming economically: large-scale construction projects are many; the T is full at rush hour; restaurants require reservations even in the middle of the week. People pack the sidewalks. The population as a whole looks young and diverse. The city sits atop perhaps the largest brain trust in the nation with Harvard and MIT, Northeastern, Boston College, Boston University, etc. Further, the Globe should be basking in the glory of “Spotlight,” which just won an Academy Award for best picture and features its newsroom in the most attractive light. So, how is that the Globe can’t seem to find financial stability or to incorporate itself into this picture of prosperity? It astounds me that they are building a new printing press. Really? REALLY? To produce pretty images that everyone is going to look at …. ONLINE. No doubt it is related to demands from advertisers, who appear to be as out of it as Globe management.

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  4. Alan Zarek

    Maybe one day the Globe will solve its delivery issues so I can stop sending snarky emails when I get no Sunday Paper…going on six consecutive weeks.,..

  5. Bob Gardner

    . . .and almost simultaneously the Globe runs an article about the Red Sox with the theme of
    getting paid for doing nothing.

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