Boston Globe Media is hiring for a morning newsletter to be called Boston Local

Earlier today, in an item about the debut of Axios Boston, I expressed some puzzlement that The Boston Globe doesn’t have a morning newsletter. It sounds like that’s about to change.

A sharp-eyed reader sent me a link to this job ad for a lead writer for a newsletter to be called Boston Local. It sounds like a fairly ambitious endeavor that will encompass not just the Globe but its sister Boston Globe Media properties as well — Boston.com and Stat, which covers health and life sciences.

Boston Local, according to the ad, will publish seven days a week and will include “Big Stories, curated Community News, Event Spotlights, Weekend Guides, and additional rotating featurettes.” The newsletter will also have its own social channels and live events.

No word on when Boston Local will debut.

Update: Sarah Betancourt of GBH News snagged this a few weeks ago. I even hit the like button at the time, but then I promptly forgot about it.

Lincoln Millstein on his journey from media exec to hyperlocal journalist

Lincoln Millstein

Lincoln Millstein played a critical role in launching The Boston Globe’s free digital site, boston.com, in 1995. Boston.com began as a portal, and carried Globe journalism but also curated other news sites and community blogs. It had a separate staff, and the office was in downtown Boston, not in the old Dorchester plant. Lincoln went on to be executive vice president at New York Times Digital, then moved on to the Hearst Corporation, where he held a number of different roles.

When Lincoln retired as senior assistant to CEO Steven Swartz of Hearst in 2018, he wondered what was next. He found the answer by returning to his roots as a local reporter, recalling the days when he started out in the Middletown bureau of the Hartford Courant in the mid-1970s.

He and his wife, Irene Driscoll, also a longtime journalist, had upgraded their summer place in Maine in anticipation of spending more time there in retirement. Then the pandemic hit, and they moved in. He started picking up lots of local scoops on how the pandemic was affecting businesses. Not to mention the occasional deer collision. That’s how The Quietside Journal got its start.

Dan has a Quick Take on the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, which recently won a big public-records victory over the city of Worcester, which has been stonewalling them for years, and Ellen looks at newsroom layoffs and transparency.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app (as long as it’s not Spotify).

Boston Globe Media eyes expanding into TV, films, broadcast and radio

Public domain photo by Circe Denyer

Boston Globe Media Partners produces more fourth-quarter memos than I realized. I’ve posted most of them as they waft in from trusted sources.

This one strikes me as interesting because it outlines BGMP’s plans “to develop projects for television, film, podcasts and radio, and other media: we seek to amplify the remarkable stories found across all of BGMP’s newsrooms [The Boston Globe, Stat and Boston.com] by giving them new lives in these media formats beyond the print and digital word.”

The memo, written by Dan Krockmalnic, executive vice president for new media and general counsel, points to a few examples — most significantly “Gladiator,” the Spotlight series on Aaron Hernandez that was simultaneously released as a podcast and is now being developed as a television series.

“Not every New Media project can or will have the phenomenal reach of ‘Gladiator,’” Krockmalnic writes, “but success for us is getting our journalism out in new forms that reach new audiences where they are.”

I realize some of these memos are very inside, but that’s part of what Media Nation is for. So here is the full text of Krockmalnic’s message:

New Media Department Update — Q4 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Thanks for reading my Legal Department update a few weeks ago. Today I’m excited to share with you highlights from the work of the New Media Department over our first year as a standalone group within the company.

What is the New Media Department, and why start one?

As others have noted, BGMP has been expanding from a newspaper into a modern multimedia company. Many of the stories told in the journalism the Globe has produced — and those stories from STAT and boston.com, too — are well-suited to be told in other mediums — be they about a larger-than-life personality, a you-can’t-believe-it’s-true crime story, or a world-leading medical breakthrough. Spotlight was a remarkable film that did wonders to establish our name and our brand in this space. That was a film about us; we wanted to lean into the business of regularly making projects that are by us.

And so now, the New Media team leads our efforts to develop projects for television, film, podcasts and radio, and other media: we seek to amplify the remarkable stories found across all of BGMP’s newsrooms by giving them new lives in these media formats beyond the print and digital word. Done right, this increases our exposure and appreciation by reaching new viewers and listeners with our journalism. It also adds separate revenue streams as we seek to diversify our business.

This ground has been trod by others: I look admiringly at the New York Times’ achievements in this space that include many groundbreaking and award-winning documentaries, The New York Times Presents show, the 1619 Project-related media, the scripted Modern Love series, The Fourth Estate documentary series, and their growing podcasting and audio empire.

Who is the New Media Department?

I started off alone on the business side, with Scott Allen in the Globe’s newsroom as an essential partner right from the jump. Linda [Henry, the CEO of Boston Globe Media] had the immediate good sense that the vision required expert help, and so after a lengthy interview process, Ira Napoliello joined us this past March as Director of New Media. Ira was exactly what we needed, having spent the better part of two decades as a film producer in Los Angeles before moving to Boston to be close to his wife’s family.

How do you spend your time?

Our days are split between working with our colleagues at BGMP and dealing with our entertainment partners. They include our agents at UTA and Aevitas; Hollywood film and television studios and streamers; podcasting companies; the creative talent like writers, directors, actors and producers; and talent agents and managers.

Ira joins various newsroom staff meetings and stays in regular contact with editors and reporters to ensure that we are aware of upcoming stories and investigations. He also spends time scouring the Globe archives to try to find stories from the past that might be right for adaptation. As ideas begin to take shape, we schedule and lead an alarming number of internal and external meetings and calls to shepherd the projects from concept to reality.

We listen a lot and we read even more. We’re looking for the stories that make you want to share them with a note: “You need to read this one.” Sometimes they are so unbelievable as to sound… not believable. Think: the comedic tale from Neil Swidey about a 25-year war between two neighbors in Beverly, or Shelley Murphy’s sweeping Finding Lisa piece about a woman’s genealogical search for her family revealing that the man she thought was her father was actually a serial killer.

We don’t need to look far to point to what success looks like: Spotlight’s remarkable Gladiator series on the tragic life of Aaron Hernandez was a groundbreaking six-part series that was smartly coupled with the simultaneous release of a chart-topping podcast series created in partnership with Wondery. The podcast’s runaway success caught the eyes (ears?) of executives at the FX network. And so earlier this summer, FX announced that Gladiator will now have its third life as a scripted, limited-run series on its television and streaming channel as American Sports Story, part of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story franchise. The show is currently being written and will be filming next summer and is set to debut in 2023. Our Spotlight team is working now with the show’s creatives to ensure that the series remains truthful to the original reporting.

By the end of its run, Gladiator will have led to thousands of new Globe subscriptions, over 10 million podcast downloads, and its own season-run show. That means subscription, advertising, licensing, and production revenue — a perfect example of what we aspire to when we talk about a modern media company. And all founded on the truly exceptional journalism for which we’re known.

Not every New Media project can or will have the phenomenal reach of Gladiator, but success for us is getting our journalism out in new forms that reach new audiences where they are. We succeed when we make smart calls on projects: as Brian has put it, each such project is a bit of a lottery ticket, and we’re looking to tip the odds in our favor with decisions that allow us to de-risk our investment — just like the gang behind the Cash WinFall scheme did with the Massachusetts State Lottery in the remarkable 2011 story from Andres Estes and Scott Allen.

What have you accomplished so far?

We’ve had some early successes in our first year:

We are thrilled to be finalizing an agreement with one of the most prestigious streamers to produce two parallel projects — a multi-part documentary and a multi-episode podcast series — about a well-known Boston true-crime story. The documentary will be directed by an award-winning documentarian and the podcast will be the streamer’s first-ever foray into original investigative journalism. More to come on this soon.

We helped close a deal to license STAT’s first feature-length documentary, Augmented, to GBH’s Nova to distribute and air. Augmented tells the story of Hugh Herr’s new way of performing amputations that will allow bionic limbs to move and feel like the real thing, decades after his own legs were amputated in a mountain-climbing accident.

In the “older” media realm of book deals, we are working with Black Dog & Leventhal to publish a book on the history of the Boston Red Sox as told through the Boston Globe. (Here’s their analogous book with the New York Times and the Yankees; fortunately, it hasn’t needed much updating in the last 20 years…).

A few other stories we are actively working to develop include:

The murder of Tiffany Moore: 12-year-old Moore was a victim of a 1988 gang crossfire shooting. Her death became a symbol of the depravity of gang violence and led to the conviction of the wrong suspect thanks to overzealous, unethical law enforcement that wrongfully charged and prosecuted Sean Drumgold. Globe reporter Dick Lehr’s work led to his exoneration decades later. We are working with Dick to revisit the crime with an eye to something more: identifying the real killer and getting justice for Tiffany.

The Boy in the River: in April 1972, 13-year-old Danny Croteau was found dead in the Chicopee River. He was killed by blunt force trauma and left floating, face down, in the water. His murder was unsolved for almost 50 years. In May 2021, former Catholic priest Richard Lavigne confessed to the murder from his death bed. We will work with Novel, the award-winning and London-based podcasting company, to produce a documentary podcast featuring our own Kevin Cullen that explains how crucial institutions including the police, prosecutors and the Church failed Danny and allowed Lavigne literally to get away with murder.

Sparkies: the largest arson ring in U.S. history — including Boston police and firefighters — set over 160 fires in the early 1980s in the stunningly mistaken belief that these public dangers would somehow convince the city to restore cuts to police and fire services. One arsonist, a Boston Housing cop who called himself “Mr. Flare” to the media, threatened to keep setting fires “till all deactivated police and fire equipment is brought back.”

Camp Q: Inspired by Zoe Greenberg’s viral story from this summer, we are developing a character-driven scripted comedy about an eventful couple of days at a New England summer camp where seemingly everything went wrong.

We work on each project to ensure that, whatever the medium the story is told in, it is worthy of having the Boston Globe Media name attached to it. As we’re always on the lookout for new stories, please drop us a line with any interesting ideas that you feel could make for a great project. We’re excited to make it happen.

Happy holidays,
Dan

Dan Krockmalnic
Executive Vice President, New Media & General Counsel
Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC

 

Guild approves contract with Boston Globe Media, ending nearly three years of strife

After nearly three years of increasingly fraught negotiations, the Boston Newspaper Guild and Boston Globe Media Partners have finally reached agreement on a new three-year contract. The Guild is the union that represents newsroom employees at the Globe as well as several other departments. Staff members at Boston.com and Stat News are included as well.

Don Seiffert has the details in the Boston Business Journal, reporting that about 85% of Guild members approved the contract proposal, which calls for raises, a signing bonus, a new parental-leave policy, the continuation of overtime pay and unspecified protections against outsourcing.

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The Globe has been growing in recent years, as its paid digital subscription drive has led to profitability (at least before the pandemic) and new hires. William Turville wrote in the U.K.-based Press Gazette last week that digital-only subscribers have settled in at about 225,000, as the paper has retained most of those who signed up at a big discount during the height of COVID-19.

Still, there are warning signs for owners John and Linda Henry, as Seiffert notes. The contract talks grew increasingly contentious over time. In September, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey pulled out of a Globe-sponsored event in order to show their support for the union.

“There’s definitely a sour taste lingering in our mouths,” an anonymous union member told Seiffert. “I doubt any of us will trust our owners as much as we once did.”

Such feelings are understandable but can be overcome with time. The best way to do that is to put out a great newspaper.

Here’s a statement from management, as reported by the Globe:

A Globe spokesperson said the contract “provides strong protections and economic benefits for Guild members and we will immediately start working together on its implementation.”

“The Globe remains committed to journalistic excellence and a relentless focus on providing the best possible service to our region,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to invest and innovate in order to ensure that the local, independent journalism that our community has relied on for nearly 150 years will thrive and be sustainable for many years to come.”

And here’s a statement from the Guild, provided Friday night by a trusted source:

Dear Guild members,

Following the tabulation of today’s vote, we are pleased to announce that Guild membership has voted to ratify the three-year tentative contract agreement between the Boston Newspaper Guild and Boston Globe Media Partners.

Together, the two parties have reached an agreement that will benefit the approximately 300 members of the Guild while also providing the company some of the operational flexibility it desired to chart a path for the company’s future success.

As soon as the contract is officially ratified by both parties, which will happen in short order, Guild members will receive a $1,000 signing bonus and a 3 percent raise on their base salary. At the start of year two and year three of this agreement, members will receive 2 percent raises. After nearly three years of difficult negotiations, it is nice to know that our members will have some extra money coming in during the holidays.

Additionally, this agreement will help codify crucial employee rights that were at risk during many stages of these negotiations. All employees will be protected by the Guild’s powers of grievance and arbitration in matters of discipline, termination, and any attempt by the Globe to create new company policies. The Guild also ensured that strong fences have been put around the company’s ability to subcontract work to outside providers, a crucial compromise that protects the integrity of our newsroom. This agreement also retains the successors and assigns clause from our prior CBA, which means that the vast majority of Guild members will enjoy all of the rights afforded by this contract in the event that the Globe comes under new ownership.

This contract would not have been possible without the time and effort of so many of you who chose to fully engage, show up, and do the hard work required, despite the demands of your own busy lives. Through your words and actions over the last three years, we have reached an agreement that stands in stark contrast to the one we were first offered back in 2018. Over the next three years, we hope that every member will continue to stay involved and be vocal about policies you believe will create a better, stronger Boston Globe.

In solidarity,

The BNG Negotiation Team

Scott Steeves
Jenna Russell
Kevin Slane

There’s no reason to think that a Nextdoor-like service would have saved local news

Every so often, media observers berate the newspaper business for letting upstarts encroach on their turf rather than innovating themselves.

Weirdly enough, I’ve heard a number of people over the years assert that newspapers should have unveiled a free classified-ad service in order to forestall the rise of Craigslist — as if giving away classified ads was going to help pay for journalism. As of 2019, Craigslist employed a reported 50 full-time people worldwide. The Boston Globe and its related media properties, Stat News and Boston.com employ about 300 full-time journalists. As they say, do the math.

Sometimes you hear the same thing about Facebook, which is different enough from journalism that you might as well say that newspapers should have moved into the food-services industry. Don Graham’s legendary decision to let Mark Zuckerberg walk away from an agreed-upon investment in Facebook changed the course of newspaper history — the Graham family could have kept The Washington Post rather than having to sell to Jeff Bezos. As a bonus, someone with a conscience would have sat on Facebook’s board, although it’s hard to know whether that would have mattered. But journalism and social media are fundamentally different businesses, so it’s not as though there was any sort of natural fit.

More recently, I’ve heard the same thing about Nextdoor, a community-oriented social network that has emerged as the news source of record for reporting lost cats and suspicious-looking people in your neighborhood. I like our Nextdoor and visit it regularly. But when it comes to discussion of local news, I find it less useful than a few of our Facebook groups. Still, you hear critics complain that newspapers should have been there first.

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Well, maybe they should have. But how good a business is it, really? Like Craigslist, social media thrives by having as few employees as possible. Journalism is labor-intensive. Over the years I’ve watched the original vision for Wicked Local — unveiled, if I’m remembering correctly, by the Old Colony Memorial in Plymouth — shrink from a genuinely interesting collection of local blogs and other community content into a collection of crappy websites for GateHouse Media’s and now Gannett’s newspapers.

The original Boston.com was a vibrant experiment as well, with community blogs and all sorts of interesting content that you wouldn’t find in the Globe. But after the Globe moved to its own paywalled website, Boston.com’s appeal was pretty much shot, although it continues to limp along. For someone who wants a free regional news source, it’s actually not that bad. But the message, as with Wicked Local, is that maybe community content just doesn’t produce enough revenue to support the journalists we need to produce actual news coverage.

Recently Will Oremus of a Medium-backed website called OneZero wrote a lengthy piece about the rise of Nextdoor, which has done especially well in the pandemic. Oremus’ take was admirably balanced — though Nextdoor can be a valuable resource, especially in communities lacking real news coverage, he wrote, it is also opaque in its operations and tilted toward the interests of its presumably affluent users. According to Oremus, Nextdoor sites are available in about 268,000 neighborhoods across the world, and its owners have considered taking the company public.

There’s no question that Nextdoor is taking on the role once played by local newspapers. But is that because people are moving to Nextdoor or because local newspapers are withering away? As Oremus writes, quoting Emily Bell:

In some ways, Nextdoor is filling a gap left by a dearth of local news outlets. “In discussions of how people are finding out about local news, Nextdoor and Facebook Groups are the two online platforms that crop up most in our research,” said Columbia’s Emily Bell. Bell is helping to lead a project examining the crisis in local news and the landscape that’s emerging in its wake.

“When we were scoping out, ‘What does a news desert look like?’ it was clear that there’s often a whole group of hyperlocal platforms that we don’t traditionally consider to be news,” Bell said. They included Nextdoor, Facebook Groups, local Reddit subs, and crime-focused apps such as Citizen and Amazon Ring’s Neighbors. In the absence of a traditional news outlet, “people do share news, they do comment on news,” she said. “But they’re doing it on a platform like Nextdoor that really is not designed for news — may be in the same way that Facebook is not designed for news.”

Look, I’m glad that Nextdoor is around. I’m glad that Patch is around, and in fact our local Patch occasionally publishes some original reporting. But there is no substitute for actual journalism — the hard work of sitting through local meetings, keeping an eye on the police and telling the story of the community. As inadequate as our local Gannett weekly is, there’s more local news in it than in any other source we have.

If local newspapers had developed Nextdoor and offered it as part of their journalism, would it have made a different to the bottom line? It seems unlikely — although it no doubt would have brought in somewhat more revenues than giving away free classifieds.

Nextdoor, like Facebook, makes money by offering low-cost ads and employing as few people as possible. It may add up to a lot of cash in the aggregate. At the local level, though, I suspect it adds up to very little — and, if pursued by newspapers, would distract from the hard work of coming up with genuinely sustainable business models.

In year-end message, Linda Henry announces that the Globe is expanding

The Boston Globe is expanding, according to chief executive officer Linda Pizzuti Henry.

The news comes in the form of a full-page ad in Sunday’s print edition — an odd choice, given that the Globe has about 220,000 digital-only subscribers and, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, has a Sunday print circulation of about 140,000. But maybe a lot of those digital subscribers use the e-paper and saw it anyway. (Update: I’m told Henry’s message was emailed to digital subscribers last week. I can’t imagine why I didn’t see it, but there you go.)

Henry begins by thanking readers following a difficult year of pandemic, economic collapse and “an overdue reckoning around race, equity and social justice.” And, of course, she praises the Globe as a “local, independent news organization,” citing highlights such as the paper’s COVID coverage, Mark Shanahan’s article and podcast about recovering from prostate cancer and “A Beautiful Resistance,” a celebration of Black life in New England by culture columnist Jeneé Osterheldt.

Now about the expansion:

  • Reporters and editors will be added to beef up the paper’s innovation, political and investigative beats.
  • A new Health and Science section will be launched, featuring coverage from Stat News and the Globe’s staff. (Perhaps something to keep an eye on: Stat News is non-union, whereas the Globe’s union and management have been at loggerheads over a new contract for several years.)
  • The Rhode Island bureau is being expanded, an initiative that had been announced previously.

Particularly welcome is the news that the Globe will be “improving our mobile app experience.” I hope those improvements extend to tablets as well as phones.

We all have our quibbles with the Globe, but the past few years have been extraordinary in putting the paper on a sustainable financial footing.

Publisher John Henry announced in late 2018 that the Globe had become profitable after years of losses and cost-cutting. The paper passed the 200,000 digital-subscription mark in early 2020, a long-sought measure of viability. And when Linda Henry was made CEO of Boston Globe Media Partners in November, the company said it currently employs more than 300 full-time journalists across its three platforms — the Globe, Stat News and Boston.com.

That is an impressive number at a time when The Denver Post’s newsroom, to cite just one example, has been slashed to about 60 by its hedge-fund owner, Alden Global Capital.

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Big changes (and shrinkage) coming to Boston.com

Sounds like big changes are coming to Boston.com, the free website the Boston Globe launched in the mid-1990s and whose mission has shifted a number of times over the years.

The takeaway from the memo below, from Boston.com general manager Eleanor Cleverly and chief engineering and product officer Anthony Bonfiglio, is that the free site will get smaller (buyouts are being offered) and that the priority will be the paid BostonGlobe.com site. It also sounds like Boston.com is being repositioned as a lifestyle-and-entertainment site in a way that’s not unlike a suggestion I made a year and a half ago at WGBHNews.org.

The news comes just days after Linda Henry, wife of Globe publisher John Henry, was given oversight responsibilities for Boston.com.

I don’t like to see people lose their jobs, but beyond that, the changes might make sense depending on how they play out. There is no reason for Boston.com and the Globe to be in competition with each other; several people left the Globe just last week in response to the latest round of buyouts. If this pushes a few Boston.com readers to pay for the Globe, so much the better. And as a Globe reader, I’m glad to hear that the recently redesigned online sports pages may be a model for the rest of the site.

News of the memo was broken by Carly Carioli on Twitter.

The memo follows.

Hello all,

Boston.com is now more than twenty years old; and this year, Globe.com celebrates its fifth anniversary. These sites are the two most popular digital news and information destinations in New England. As the digital landscape continues to change, we too must change and evolve.

The number one, long-term priority of our organization is to significantly grow our digital subscriber base at Globe.com. In order to do so, we need for our two sites to become more complementary in their day-to-day content and businesses.

Boston.com will continue to be the region’s best free go-to site for things to do, where to live, what to drive, where to work, destinations for travel and so much more, while also evolving to more closely focus on the needs of our audiences in key demographic segments and advertisers who are trying to connect with our audiences. It will be the indispensable guide, resource, and forum for the region. Boston.com will also be a portal to news from The Boston Globe for millions of visitors every month.

The Boston Globe will continue to build on its remarkable Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism and its position as a leader in paid digital subscribers among metro dailies in the country. Globe.com will remain the foremost site for news, information, and journalism from our region. The recent launch of our in-depth, graphically enhanced sports site is just the beginning of what is in store for Globe.com.

There will be a clearer differentiation between the in-depth journalism of Globe.com and the community-centered resources of Boston.com. With resulting efficiencies anticipated, we are offering a voluntary buyout program for those who work in dedicated digital roles across Boston Globe Media Partners. A reorganization of the digital operation is under way. This will create fewer redundancies, increased collaboration, greater efficiency and cost savings across the company.

You will undoubtedly have questions about these changes, particularly how they will personally and professionally impact you. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will host Q&A sessions for departments across Boston Globe Media Partners, beginning this afternoon. We will also address, with more specificity, how this new vision will be reflected in our core digital products.

For those of you who are staying as we move ahead, know that you will be part of a team of smart, collaborative, digital-first thinkers who will generate stories of great relevance and innovative products we can all be proud of. For those who choose to take this buyout, thank you for making our digital experience such an important part of our future.

Eleanor and Anthony

Linda Henry, wife of Globe owner, will oversee Boston.com

Linda Henry. Photo via Twitter.
Linda Henry. Photo via Twitter.

Well, that was fast. Just a day after Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory announced that chief digital guy David Skok would be leaving later this year, two people who will take over some of his duties have been named. One is a real eye-opener: Linda Pizzuti Henry, wife of Globe owner John Henry, who will oversee Boston.com.

The other is Anthony Bonfiglio, currently the executive director of engineering, who’ll be in charge of engineering, development, product, and design.

When I gave a “Rave” to Skok on Beat the Press Friday, host Emily Rooney asked me if Skok’s departure was related to Linda Henry’s elevation. My honest answer is that I have no idea. It’s something I would certainly like to find out.

It’s also not clear how hands-on Linda Henry intends to be. Eleanor Cleverly, the general manager of Boston.com, has gotten good reviews for stabilizing the site after a rocky transition from being the Globe‘s online home to its current incarnation as a free standalone service. And Cleverly will remain.

It’s way too early to assess what this will all mean, but I’ve heard from a number of insiders that Linda Henry is smart and generally a force for good. Still, it’s an unorthodox move.

The Globe still needs a journalist to replace Skok as managing editor for digital (he’s vice president for digital at Boston Globe Media Partners as well). But since Skok isn’t leaving right away, I suppose that can wait.

What follows is a memo from Mike Sheehan, chief executive of BGMP.

I want to let everyone know that Anthony Bonfiglio will now oversee digital operations, including engineering/development, product, and design across all of BGMP.

Anthony joined us two years ago from Visible Measures, where he was VP of Engineering. Since then, his impact has been immense. He oversaw the rollout of agile software development processes and best practices across the product and engineering teams. As a result, we’ve shortened time-to-market from weeks to multiple releases every week across all teams, creating a predictable and transparent development process. Anthony helped transition much of the business to WordPress and has overseen many of our digital redesigns. He was a key contributor in the launch of Stat.

On the business side, Anthony folded creative services developers into the overall engineering organization and greatly increased their productivity. He also successfully assumed management of our ad operations organization during a critical phase and has since transitioned it back to Advertising.

In short, Anthony has proven himself as a leader who can make a very complex organization faster, better, and more agile. He will continue to report to Wade Sendall.

Brian McGrory informed the newsroom yesterday that David Skok has decided to leave the Globe by the end of the year. Regarding David’s boston.com responsibilities, Eleanor Cleverly will continue day-to-day oversight and management of boston.com, but it will now report to Linda Henry in her current role as Managing Director.

I know I join everyone in wishing David Skok nothing but success and happiness in all his future endeavors and in expressing deep gratitude for all he’s done over the past three years. He has been a driving force in the success we’ve experienced on bostonglobe.com and, with Eleanor and her team, was key to stabilizing boston.com over the past six months. As he transitions out, the leadership of Anthony, Eleanor, and Linda will help us continue to be the region’s leading source of journalism that becomes more relevant and interesting by the hour.

Hilary Sargent leaves Boston.com

Hilary Sargent has left Boston.com, a free website owned by Boston Globe Media Partners. Sargent was instrumental in the relaunch of the venerable site two years ago as a mobile-friendly viral alternative for younger readers who didn’t want to pay for the Globe; she was featured prominently in this New York Times story.

Sargent’s tenure was rocky at times, and in December 2014 she was suspended, as the Globe put it, “for creating a T-shirt design mocking a central figure in stories she had recently written.” But she returned as a feature writer and has done good work. See, for example, this interview with Tom Brady’s chef, or her article on why some records were sealed in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial.

Before her return to the Globe in 2014, she was best known for producing the visual journalism site ChartGirl, chosen by Time magazine as one of the 50 best websites of 2013.

Best wishes to Hilary on whatever comes next. An email she sent to numerous people somehow wafted in through my window a little while ago, and I present it in full below.

Subject: It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you

I was 18 years old when I first worked at the Globe. It was at the State House bureau, and there were 5 or 6 of us packed into a tiny, messy room. My role wasn’t glamorous. I fixed printer jams, answered phones, and covered the state auditor’s race. It was the best job I ever had.

For a long time after, I went in a different direction career-wise. But the Globe remained—if not a goal—then an aspiration. In 2012, after a decade doing investigative work, I ended up starting a website that caught the attention of Teresa Hanafin and Bennie DiNardo, who generously offered me the chance to do a “community blog” on Boston.com.

I moved back to Boston and, in early 2014, started as a full-time Boston.com writer. It’s amazing how long ago that seems.

A lot has happened in the last two years. I’m proud of much of the work I did during my tenure. I wasn’t perfect, but I was given a second chance, and threw myself into trying to move and on and be a contributor in whatever ways I could—whether it be covering the Tsarnaev trial, the amazing winter of 2015, or Tom Brady’s eating habits.

The last two years have been a learning experience, and not always a pleasant one. But at the end of the day, this is where I always wanted to work. 

My last day at BGMP was Thursday, February 11. 

It has been suggested to me in recent days that I idolized the Globe too much. Maybe that’s true. But I hope not. I’ve worked at a lot of places, but I have never been prouder to work anywhere. The night I spent delivering papers earlier this year reinforced to me why I’ve idolized this place for so long. So did watching Spotlight, which I have now seen three times. 

I will miss the surprisingly affordable cafeteria food, the mice, the lack of natural light, the crumbling parking ramp, watching Chartbeat during a snowstorm, beating the Globe every now and then, Roberto’s encyclopedic knowledge of everything, Jack’s endless good mood, Adam Vaccaro’s fashion advice … I could go on and on … Hell, I will even miss Methode. (Just kidding, I won’t miss Methode.)

Most importantly, I will miss all of you. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity—however brief—to work with all of you. I’m incredibly proud of the work we did together at Boston.com

You were all incredibly generous with me (and with Dash) over the past two years and especially over the past several months, and I will never forget that. Thank you.

And now, onward. 

— Hilary 

P.S. Please visit the Globe library in my honor. Seriously. That place is the best.

The newspaper business’s long, ugly decline

Brendan Lynch for WGBHNews.org
Illustration by Brendan Lynch for WGBHNews.org

Previously published at WGBHNews.org.

Twenty years ago this month, The New York Times entered the Internet age with a sense of optimism so naive that looking back might break your heart. “With its entry on the Web,” wrote Times reporter Peter H. Lewis, “The Times is hoping to become a primary information provider in the computer age and to cut costs for newsprint, delivery and labor.”

The Times wasn’t the first major daily newspaper to launch a website. The Boston Globe, then owned by the New York Times Co., had unveiled its Boston.com service—featuring free content from the Globe and other local news organizations—just a few months earlier. But the debut of NYTimes.com sent a clear signal that newspapers were ready to enlist in the digital revolution.

Fast-forward to 2016, and the newspaper business is a shell of its former self. Far from cutting newsprint and delivery costs, newspapers remain utterly reliant on their shrunken print editions for most of their revenues—as we have all been reminded by the Globe’s home-delivery fiasco.

Not only do newspapers remain tethered to 20th-century industrial processes such as massive printing presses, tons of paper, and fleets of delivery trucks, but efforts to develop new sources of digital revenue have largely come to naught.

Craigslist came up with a new model for classified ads—free—with which newspapers could not compete. And there went 40 percent of the ad revenue.

Digital display advertising has become so ubiquitous that its value keeps dropping. Print advertising still pays the bills, but for how much longer? The Internet has shifted the balance of power from publishers to advertisers, who can reach their customers far more efficiently than they could by taking a shot in the dark on expensive print ads. The result, according to the Newspaper Association of America (as reported by the Pew Research Center), is that print ad revenues have fallen from $44.9 billion in 2003 to just $16.4 billion in 2014, while digital ad revenues—$3.5 billion in 2014—have barely budged since 2006.

And it’s getting worse. Last week Richard Tofel, president of the nonprofit news organization ProPublica and a former top executive with The Wall Street Journal, wrote an essay for Medium under the harrowing headline “The sky is falling on print newspapers faster than you think.” Tofel took a look at the 25 largest U.S. newspapers and found that their print circulation is continuing to drop at a rapid rate, contrary to predictions that the decline had begun to level off.

There’s a bit of apples-and-oranges confusion in Tofel’s numbers. For instance, he suggests that the 140,000 paid weekday print circulation that the Globe claimed in September 2015 was somehow analogous to the 115,000 it reported during the recent home-delivery crisis. In fact, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, the Globe had 119,000 home-delivery and mail customers in September 2015. (Another 30,000 or so print newspapers were sold via single-copy sales.)

But there’s no disputing Tofel’s bottom line, which is that print circulation plunged between 2013 and 2015 at a far faster rate than had been expected. The Journal is down by 400,000; the Times by 200,000; The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times by 100,000.

“Nearly everyone in publishing with whom I shared the 2015 paid figures found them surprisingly low,” Tofel wrote, adding that “if print circulation is much lower than generally believed, what basis is there for confidence the declines are ending and a plateau lies ahead?”

If advertising is falling off the cliff and print circulation is plummeting, then surely the solution must be to charge readers for digital subscriptions, right? Well, that may be part of the solution. But it’s probably not realistic to think that such a revenue stream will ever amount to much more than a small part of what’s needed to run a major metropolitan newspaper.

Not everyone agrees, of course. The journalist and entrepreneur Steven Brill, in a recent interview with Poynter.org, said newspaper executives find themselves in their current straits because they were not nearly as aggressive as they should have been about building paywalls around their content.

“I always had a basic view … that if you weren’t getting revenue from readers, you ultimately weren’t going to put a premium on your journalism,” said Brill, a founder of the paywall company Press Plus, which he later sold. “You couldn’t just rely on advertisers because they would then be your only real customers.”

Brill’s views are not extreme. For instance, he thinks it’s reasonable to give away five to 10 articles a month, as newspapers with metered paywalls such as the Globe and the Times do. But Brill does not mention what I think are by far the two biggest hurdles newspapers face in charging for digital content.

First, customers are already paying hundreds of dollars a month for broadband, cell service, and their various digital devices. It’s not crazy for them to think that the content should come included with that, as it does (for the most part) with their monthly cable bill. Those who wag their fingers that newspapers never should have given away their content overlook the reality that customers had none of those extra expenses back when their only option was to pay for the print edition.

Second, paywalls interfere with the way we now consume news—skipping around the Internet, checking in with multiple sources. To wall off content runs contrary not just to what news consumers want but to the sharing culture of the Internet. The Globe has had quite a bit of success is selling digital subscriptions—about 90,000, according to the September 2015 audit report. But what will happen when the paper ratchets the price up to $1 a day, as the newspaper analyst Ken Doctor recently reported for the website Newsonomics?

As I write this, I am on my way to Philadelphia, where I’ll be learning more about the transfer of that city’s newspapers—The Philadelphia Inquirer and the tabloid Daily News—to a nonprofit foundation. Ken Doctor, writing for the Nieman Journalism Lab, isn’t optimistic: “Sprinkling some nonprofit pixie dust won’t save the newspaper industry. Only new ideas can do that.”

For the beleaguered newspaper business, the walls are closing in and the oxygen is being pumped out of the room. Clay Shirky, who writes about digital culture, once said, “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.”

Trouble is, 20 years after NYTimes.com staked out its home on the web, newspapers are still the source of most of the public interest journalism we need to govern ourselves in a democracy.