The print edition of today’s Boston Globe includes a banner advertisement that appears above the nameplate at the very top of the page. The ad, for Boston Medical Center, promotes that institution’s addiction services. The placement is unusual enough to have prompted a message to the staff late Monday night from Globe editor Brian McGrory.
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory’s latest message to his staff just arrived here via the usual top-secret route. The big news is that the Globe is reporting a surge in paid digital subscriptions. According deputy managing editor Jason Tuohey, paid digital has nearly hit 79,000, up from about 75,000 just a few weeks ago.
The Globe has bet the farm on paid digital — and, at $30 a month for longtime subscribers, it’s charging more than just about any newspaper. For instance, The Washington Post’s cheapest offering, the National Digital Edition, costs just $10 every four weeks. The Post, of course, is pursuing a huge national audience. The Globe, as a regional paper, has no option but to try to make its money from a much smaller group of readers.
The Globe has lately been upgrading its digital-only offerings, posting a “Trump Today” roundup every morning, moving must-read weather guy Dave Epstein from the free Boston.com site to Globe.com, and unveiling a blizzard of electronic newsletters. It sounds like it’s having an effect. Now if only they can do something about those slow loading speeds.
The full text of McGrory’s message is below.
We’ve got some numbers that are very much worth sharing from the past few weeks. Last year at this time we were having our best winter to date. We had Donald Trump’s emergence and the NH primary, among other big stories. This year, over the past 31 days, we’re up 45 percent in page views. That alone should speak volumes. More important, we’ve gained 2,100 digital subscribers in the past two calendar weeks — and that doesn’t include some equally remarkable success already this week.
Let’s acknowledge that no small part of this readership is being driven by extraordinary events. But what this room has done is provide exceptional journalism under relentless pressure, such that readers feel compelled to come back to us time and again — and to pull out their credit cards to subscribe. It’s the performance of our Washington bureau, which is breathtakingly thoughtful and engaging. It’s the work of our Metro staff in covering immigration issues and the massive protests, exhaustive reporting that has quite literally taken staff straight through the night. It’s the best Sports department in America reporting on the best Super Bowl comeback in history, with commentary, insight, and straight news coverage that no organization on the planet can match.
Katie [Kingsbury, managing editor for digital] asked Jason Tuohey for a fuller picture of our recent successes. Here’s Jason’s direct response:
First off, January 2017 was the best month we’ve had in at least three years. We broke post-Marathon bombing records in a host of categories:
- Unique visitors
- Page views
- Logged-in visits / aka subscriber visits
- Returning visitors
- Return visits of five or more times
- Return visits of 20 or more times
Still Jason: This torrid pace has extended into February. We added 1,331 subscribers last week, the highest total in more than three years, which put us at 77,999 paid digital subscribers. We didn’t stay there very long, converting nearly 800 more new subscribers in the past two days alone. Yesterday, the day after the Super Bowl, ranked among the very best days we’ve ever had on Globe.com in virtually every audience category we measure.
Put simply, our audience isn’t just growing — it’s swelling with new subscribers, who come back again and again to experience our journalism.
The big drivers for this surge in readership are Trump, particularly the marches and the executive order on immigration, and the Patriots. But if you’re looking for a few other gems in 2017, here are some options:
— [Bryan] Marquard’s obit on Dr. Kamala Dansinghani
— Jackie Reiss on why Sasha Obama wasn’t at her father’s farewell
— Jan Ransom’s story about the 14-year-old charged with murder
— Liz Kowalczyk’s reporting on the intruder in the Brigham OR
— Matt Rocheleau explaining how White House webpages were archived (not deleted, as others reported) on the first day of the Trump administration
— The Dan Adams-led investigation into which bars have the most OUIs
Be proud. Everyone in the room has played a role here, from the reporting to the exquisite editing and copy-editing, to the extraordinary graphics, the arresting photography, the ground-breaking development and product work, the polished and addictive video, and the striking designs online and in print. Subscriptions are our lifeblood, and we’re bringing digital subscribers to the Globe far, far more effectively than any other metro news organization in the country.
While we’re at it, please offer your appreciation to our colleagues at boston.com, who have seen an unprecedented surge on our sister site, especially over the past four days. The reasons are not surprising: great, often clever and pithy stories that capture the absolute essence of Boston in the aftermath of the Super Bowl. It, too, has been a must read.
Congratulations and thanks to you all.
Earlier this week Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory promised his staff that he’d soon be offering more details about the paper’s reinvention effort. Well, a little while ago his latest memo came floating in through my open window.
If you are interested in the future of the Globe then you should read it in full; it defies summary. My instant takeaway, though, is that there are three points that deserve special attention:
- The Globe is moving away from the idea that it needs to be a paper of record in the old-fashioned sense. Rather, McGrory wants it to be “an organization of interest.” In other words, no more obligatory process stories about things that few readers care about.
- The news cycle will be reorganized to move further away from the deadlines demanded by the print schedule. Instead, stories will be published online throughout the day and night, with an “Express Desk” playing a key role in that.
- The old barriers separating the newsroom and business sides will be rethought. There is an industry-wide view that at a time when revenues are shrinking, new working relationships need to be defined as long as they don’t compromise the integrity of the journalism. Easier said than done, of course.
The full text of McGrory’s memo follows.
I wanted to give you an update on where we are with the reinvention initiative. The intention was to be brief. The reality is that it’s not. My apologies in advance.
The presentations by the four sets of working group chairs in late November went incredibly well. I hope everyone agrees. The pitches were strong, the questions and comments were smart, and there seemed to be an unmistakable consensus around the need for change. Following those meetings, I’ve sat with a decent swath of the newsroom in one-on-one and small group meetings to get a sense of your thoughts and concerns. I’ve found it truly helpful, to say the least. Your sheer brains and commitment all but guarantee our success in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Separately, we’ve put together a core reinvention committee, composed of the eight working group chairs, and the deputy managing editors, managing editors, and the editorial page editor. We’ve met several times to begin mapping out initiatives that we can roll out as soon as this month. We’re making good progress, but we need to step it up.
Indulge me while I repeat some of the principles behind a reinvention:
- We need to be still more interesting, relentlessly interesting, every hour of the day. To this end, we need to jettison any sense of being the paper of record. We are the organization of interest. If something feels obligatory to write, it’s an obligation for someone to read. The problem is, readers don’t feel that obligation any more.
- We need to focus on what readers truly value, understanding that we can’t be all things to everyone. The great news is that Globe subscribers most want to read the kinds of stories that we most like to produce. Think accountability journalism, colorful and contextual breaking news reporting, lyrical narrative, smart enterprise reporting, and provocative commentary.
- We need to focus not on platforms, but on journalism. We must redouble all efforts to demolish the stubborn rhythms of a legacy news operation and get our work in front of people when they are most likely to read it.
- We need to make sure that the boundaries that served us well in better financial times don’t become obstacles to our success. Put more bluntly, we need to work with the other departments to make sure we have enough revenue to support our journalism.
- We always need to hold true to our journalistic values, because without them, we lose our credibility. Repeat this last one again.
So here’s a rough map of where we go from here, understanding that this remains very much a work in progress, and there will be bumps—really mountains—to traverse along the way.
1. You’ll receive a questionnaire via email soon, prepared by Jen Peter [senior deputy managing editor for local news] and Anica Butler [assistant metro editor], asking, among other things, what beats you’ve dreamed of covering or what jobs you’d most like to have. It could be the one you have now, it could be something else, it could be a role that we haven’t thought about but will want to have when we hear it. Please respond to this questionnaire. We need to hear from you.
2. We’re planning to set up a room-wide Express Desk as soon as possible. This is designed to get news in front of the eyes of our readers quickly, and to have a fascinating diversity of news. It could be a water main break in the Financial District one moment, a passenger handing out Christmas gifts on an arriving JetBlue flight the next. This desk needs to not only be urgent, but smart and clever, and it will be powered by some of the most talented people in this room. I’ve asked Katie Kingsbury [managing editor for digital] to lead a small group in mapping out an Express Desk in terms of size and positions, and she’ll have something back to us very soon.
3. We’re planning to set up a Print Desk, congruent with the Express Desk. While the larger room focuses on journalism, the print desk will focus on how that journalism comes together in paper form every day. Let me be absolutely clear here: The physical newspaper will not be an afterthought at the Globe. It is of vital importance to us, a huge—albeit, declining—source of our revenue, and the most valued product to our most loyal readers. But it cannot continue to needlessly dominate our thinking and resources in the way it currently does. I asked Chris Chinlund [managing editor for news] to lead a small group in determining the size and components of this operation, and she, too, will have something back in early January.
4. We’ll expand on our excellence in projects, with an eye toward even more, with a greater range of ambition and length (some even shorter than this memo).
5. We’ll set up an Audience Engagement team under Jason Tuohey [deputy managing editor for audience engagement] designed to make sure we are better connecting to existing audiences, and seeking new audiences, in every way possible, through our journalism and the way we present it. We are swimming in metrics. The goal now is to refine, interpret, and apply them. We will offer whatever training is necessary to work on the team.
6. We will reimagine our beats with the same eye toward becoming relentlessly interesting. I don’t know that we’ve done a major refresh of our beats in decades. It’s time. So the reinvention group, or some subset of it, will outline new beats and recalibrate the resources we have on our coverage areas. The broader room needs to play a major role in this with your ideas, whether through the questionnaire or in conversations with me and others. Please express your creativity and passions, and do it soon.
In determining what we want to cover, it will become clearer to all of us what we should forego, or at least what we can cover less of. As part of this, we’ll look at presenting news in different formats, to cut down our overuse of the incremental 700-word story.
7. We will refine and then refine again the Hubs system that was proposed by the Mission working group, but it’s not quite ready to be implemented yet—or maybe we as a room are not quite ready to accept it. There are many intriguing, even brilliant, aspects to the Hubs concept, which would push us to be far more nimble, provocative, and—this word, again—interesting But there needs to be more clarity in how it would work day to day. My sense is that we’re getting snagged up on Hubs as the infrastructure of the room. If we create Hubs within the infrastructure, we will get a better sense of how they’ll work and how effective they can be. So that’s exactly how we’ll start. Hub ideas are welcome.
8. We are planning to appoint a small, tech-savvy group that will devote itself to making Methode more user-friendly and an overall better communications tool for the entire room. [Methode is the Globe’s content-management system.]
9. We are setting up groups to further engage Advertising and Circulation, hoping to involve the newsroom deeper in both areas. On Circulation, we will focus on subscriber retention, with some acquisition, working with our colleagues there to do direct outreach to subscribers. On Advertising, we are putting together a newsroom-based advisory group to offer input on all forms of sponsored and native campaigns, with the intention to ratchet up the creativity that goes into these campaigns. David Dahl [deputy managing editor for operations] is currently drawing up rules of the road to make sure that we don’t put ourselves in a compromising position.
10. We’ll be looking, soon, to get much of the room started earlier in the day, and impose rolling deadlines on enterprise stories through the day, to assure that we have a flow of fresh stories when people are most likely to read them. Still too many stories are posted on the site in the evening, because we’ve followed old-school print deadlines. That’s got to stop. The news meetings will be pushed up soon, probably to 9 a.m. The morning meeting will focus on brainstorming ideas, and the specifics of when stories will be posted. The afternoon will include the timing of web stories, but focus too on the print paper.
Key point: As part of this, we have to fulfill the promise to everyone in the room that as you get here earlier, you leave earlier. Foreign as this might seem, it is very doable.
Over the next few weeks, a dedicated group will basically create a blueprint for a reimagined newsroom, carving out the new desks mentioned above, prescribing headcounts to each of these areas, and getting right down to specific beats, possible Hubs, and reconfigured departments. You aren’t just invited to be a part of it, you need to be a part of it. Offer up your thoughts. We’ll come back to the room soon with what we have.
There’s more, especially in terms of communications and the culture of the room. And please keep in mind that this is not a one-and-done project, but a constant evolution; some of the things we change will need to be changed again.
In sum, picture a newsroom that kicks to life before dawn, as members of an Express Desk arrive and continue to flow in through the morning, ready to post breaking news, fashion clever ideas, and find the wryest stories trending on social media. Picture the larger room starting their jobs by 9 in most instances, ready to publish at peak times. Picture a round-the-clock multiplatform desk ready to give stories an expert workover regardless of the hour they are submitted.
Picture a wider range of fresher beats to produce a steady stream of fascinating stories. Picture a story-telling team from product and development working on hubs to create extraordinary presentations. Picture respected and experienced “priority editors”—what one working group described as “air traffic controllers” and another as “traffic cops”—making the best use of our journalism across the day, the week, and the platform. In this scenario, the print desk begins arriving in the early afternoon, working with a team of talented designers to produce a stunning newspaper for the following morning.
Lift the lens a bit and see an even broader picture, of a room more inclined to pursue risks and more accepting of the inevitable failures. It is an enterprise more crusading in our approach, an organization that not only covers the region, but regularly provokes it—by holding the powerful accountable, giving voice to those who wouldn’t otherwise have one, advocating for what works, and being our readers’ best ally. All the while, we will be working closely with the business side to drive digital subscriptions, keep our existing subscribers happy, and offer our creativity to native content.
Probably not, but we will accomplish this in the coming months, your help very much required. Please continue to speak up. We need to hear from you.
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory has outdone himself with a 1,550-word New Year’s message to his staff, a copy of which a kind newsroom soul sent me on Sunday. McGrory is full of praise for the accomplishments of the past year while cognizant of the problems caused by continued budget cuts.
There is news here, too: He promises some details about the paper’s ongoing reinvention effort “in a few days.”
The full text of McGrory’s message follows.
It’s odd, the things you remember about a given year. It was raining out, not a warm, soothing rain, but freezing little icicles that prick your skin again and again and again. The sun hadn’t come up. I’m not sure it ever did. The sidewalks were a hockey rink. And Ellen Clegg, the wheelwoman on our two-person delivery route that Sunday morning last January, apparently had just about enough of my methodical pace. So she slammed her SUV into park and began running down a Wellesley street tossing papers on subscribers’ driveways.
We were but two delivery people in a vast newsroom army, one that had been organized a week earlier by Beth Healy. Person after person answered the call, reporters, editors, designers, photographers, graphic artists, technologists, owners—you name it. And for those who couldn’t deliver, they worked the phone banks or created daily delivery spreadsheets. It felt like the ground was cracking under our feet, but this newsroom would do everything it could to preserve the integrity of the Globe.
While many of us remember delivering the papers those subsequent Sundays, it’s what was in the papers themselves that matters most. In those issues, it was a pair of important stories on questionable influence in City Hall. It was a brilliantly written feature on the development boom leading to obstructed views. It was an essay on Donald Trump’s unfiltered style, a gripping enterprise story on a high-level drug trafficking informant, and a fresh look at the ballooning pricetag for the Green Line extension. In sum and as usual, it was vital and interesting Boston Globe journalism, well worth whatever effort it took to get it in the hands of our readers.
The year may have begun in crisis. It ends, however, with a crucial dose of introspection—an unsparing review, part of a broad reinvention initiative, of what works and what doesn’t at the Globe, what we need to change, and how we will change it. This is among the most important work we’ve done this year, and I’ll be back to you in a few days with more details on the road ahead.
For now, though, let’s be grateful that we had such a quiet year, news-wise, to devote ourselves to this important work.
Somewhere between helping to save the Globe and then reinventing it, you produced some of the finest journalism in the industry, and some of the best I’ve seen in my time here—in a year unlike any other. Take the Washington Bureau. Have five people—seriously, just five people—ever produced such an extraordinary body of riveting and vital work, from the stories on Trump’s business dealings, to the internal workings of Clinton’s orbit, to a nation’s anger, and so much more? It just kept coming, fresh enterprise, news stories with exceptional voice and context, pieces that larger, national news organizations had no choice but to follow. I honestly don’t believe that Matt Viser and Annie Linskey, with Chris Rowland’s guiding hand, wrote a story all year that I wasn’t eager to read—and then delighted that I did. And Vicki McGrane has only added to it all.
Take our Business department. If 2015 was the year it established its own section, 2016 was when it made it an utterly must-read part of the Globe. You start naming names, you start getting into trouble, but how do you not cite Shirley Leung’s work on Ed Ansin, General Electric, and anything else she touched? Does Jon Chesto ever sleep? Does Tim Logan have the entire development community wired? Does Beth Healy ever back down? I could go on and on, beat after beat, but suffice it to say that the entire department brought urgency and freshness to the report virtually every day.
If anyone thought that Jess Rinaldi’s Pulitzer Prize for her incredible Strider Wolf portfolio would cause the Photo Department to kick back a bit, well, you don’t know the Photo Department. Who will ever forget Keith Bedford’s arresting images from Methadone Mile in July, or Suzanne Kreiter’s chilling work on Spotlight’s mental health series, or the daily offerings of just about everyone else, from the veterans with elaborate morning rituals to the guy from Denver, to our great sports shooters, all of it so good that it helped change the look and tone of our print front page.
Sports chronicled the early endings to a pair of otherwise incredible seasons—the Patriots last January and the Red Sox in October. Seriously, there’s no regional news organization in the country that has four pro sports teams staffed with more authority and insight than the Globe, with our stable of expert beat reporters, supported by a best-in-show editing operation and production desk. Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox, there’s nobody better. Throw Shaughnessy and Gasper into the mix and we can’t be beat.
Metro had another banner year, with strong accountability reporting on government influence, more groundbreaking coverage of the opioid crisis, political reporting that drove key ballot questions on marijuana legalization and charter schools, Kay Lazar’s continued watchdog reporting on abuses in the state’s nursing homes—stories that have pretty much defined our daily goal of giving voice to those who wouldn’t otherwise have one. The beat reporting, whether on transportation, higher ed, hospitals, casino gambling, and so much more, has been stellar. And the in-depth work has been some of the most fascinating and important that I can recall, whether Nestor Ramos and Evan Allen on Methadone Mile, or Eric Moskowitz on the election night trolley crash, or Maria Sacchetti on ICE and the secret release of dangerous immigrants, or Billy Baker on Will Lacey. Yvonne Abraham had a breakout year with her powerful commentary, and Josh Miller might produce the most engaging political newsletter in the industry.
Living/Arts helped drive us further into the realm of a digital first enterprise. Our extraordinary stable of critics, let by Matthew Gilbert, was a force of nature online. Ty was must reading across the year on movies and all things culture, and Sebastian is what he is, which is the best visual arts critic in the nation. But really, theater, classical music, photography, we owned it with an insightful voice, and our Sunday Arts section remains one of the absolute best of any news organization, national or regional, in the country. Our feature writers, too, have regularly splashed color on the homepage and front page—clever, smart, fresh stories. Dugan buying marijuana was worth the price of a month’s subscription all by itself.
Spotlight had a year for the ages, producing powerful reports on multiple fronts while only enhancing the quality and impact that is its trademark. The mental health series, big, bold, and beautifully told, again gave voice to those who wouldn’t otherwise have one. The team’s urgent but exhaustive work on predatory sexual behavior at elite private schools, which began with Bella English back in Features, has been life-changing for victims. And imagine being a partner at the Thornton Law Firm?
The list keeps going on and on. Our copy editing team is in a class of its own, uniformly respected across the enterprise for every good reason. Our Globe.com team has been pivotal in orchestrating another record year of viewership and, if it’s a word, subscribership. Their collective news judgment, urgency, and knowledge of the digital habitat are all flat-out impeccable. Graphics and design has made us bolder and more confident with pitch-perfect graphics, extraordinary digital presentations, and fresh front pages and section fronts. Our magazine remains at the very top of every reader survey, understandably so, and is the envy of the industry. While we’re talking popular, our Address, Travel, Food, and Good Life sections give our readers knowledge wrapped in style and flair week after week. Finally, a special hand to the editors and reporters of boston.com, who have miraculously preserved traffic in the face of substantial cuts. How? By working like crazy to produce a smart site.
On the issue of cuts, let’s be honest about it: we’ve lost a lot of people again this year and it doesn’t get any easier. These aren’t so much good people as great people, experienced journalists who have helped build the foundation for our success. But it’s testament to our extraordinary depth, resilience, and character that we have done this well in the face of the relentless pressures of a profoundly changing industry.
I wish we could glide on our accomplishments for a while—but that’s not possible, and the truth is, you’d get bored. You would, right? We’ve got too much to do in 2017. We’ll reinvent how we produce our journalism. We’ll move to innovative space in downtown Boston. We’ll be relentlessly interesting. We’ll drive the civic conversation in Greater Boston and beyond. We’ll hold the powerful accountable and give voice to those who need to be heard.
We should all be incredibly proud of where we’ve just been. We should be even more excited about where we’re about to go. Me, I’m also honored to be part of the smart, engaging, deeply committed group that is the Globe newsroom. Really, it’s something special, and every person reading this has a vital role.
Have a healthy, happy, and safe New Year. My sincere thanks to you all.
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory sent out his latest message to the staff late Friday afternoon. Among other things, he addresses the question of whether the Globe will “normalize” Donald Trump (answer: no, but) and how the paper will proceed now that Trump is the president-elect. Plus his customary fulsome praise all around. The full text follows:
So the earth shook under us last week with Donald Trump’s stunning victory, raising all the questions you’ve heard and even asked about the inability of the news media to see this coming. These are good questions, with no clear or clean answers, but what absolutely can’t be lost in our self-reflection is that we’re in a moment, an utterly pivotal moment, in which we matter more than ever to our region and our loyal readership. It is not an overstatement to say that this is why we exist. And I don’t have even the slightest doubt that we will meet the challenge.
To that end, I should say more publicly what I’ve told a lot of people in here privately over the past ten days: I’m intensely proud of our national and campaign coverage going back not just weeks and months, but years. You should be, too.
Beginning in 2013, with the award-winning Broken City series, we explored in a way that no news organization ever had the incredible dysfunction in Washington that so obviously played a role in the outcome of this campaign. In 2015, we were back again with Michael Kranish’s Divided Nation series, which gave voice to people on all sides of massive issues, from inequality to race and so much more.
Also in 2015, editors and reporters made the very conscious decision to not have our coverage driven by Trump’s outrage of the day. Certainly, we wouldn’t hide his bombastic and too often bigoted remarks from our readers, but we made a commitment to run him through the filter that all serious presidential contenders must endure. Matt Viser wrote of his bankruptcies in Atlantic City, his time at Wharton, his ownership of a beauty pageant during which he made unwanted physical moves on contestants. We wrote of crime figures employed in his business. All of these stories attracted a huge number of readers. Most were followed by other outlets.
This past summer, we launched the America on Edge series, designed to show the anxiety, uncertainty, and even anger that were leading so many voters to Trump. Again, these were some of the most read stories of the year, for every good reason, as we took our readers from a small town in Pennsylvania to portray the economic uncertainty of retirees, to a community in Georgia riven by resentment toward immigrants, to voters in Florida who protested using a mosque as a polling place, to millennials in North Carolina repelled by the toxicity of this campaign. You want answers about what just happened, reread this series.
Let’s not forget our intense, exhaustive, and excellent coverage of New Hampshire, Iowa, and beyond, and the consistently excellent Ground Game newsletter each morning. In the hours after the election, we were in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, with colorful, insightful dispatches explaining what had just occurred. Metro and Business have done great work exploring the potential impacts of a Trump presidency from here. And a shout-out to our editorial and op-ed pages, which have been stacked with particularly provocative work, and to our own news-side columnists, particularly Yvonne [Abraham], who have been required reading.
Going forward, covering Donald Trump as the president-elect, a Trump Administration, and America in the Trump era, there’s no need for us to recalibrate our approach, except, hopefully, to redeploy some people to Washington. We’ll be fair, we’ll be tough, and we’ll be ready to pounce on the most interesting and thoughtful stories possible. We will not for a moment normalize bigotry and misogyny, if he continues down the path of the campaign and with some early appointments. But we will also be wide open to the idea that his may be a novel and perhaps effective presidency, a non-ideologue in the age of hyper-partisanship. In short, we don’t know what the hell is about to happen. Nobody does. But, again, it’s why we matter.
Take this as an open solicitation. We need your input. If you have concerns, ideas, general concepts, or just a desire to download thoughts, reach out. We are already planning some creative approaches to cover an unconventional presidency. Your ideas are more than welcome. We are also in dire — and I do mean dire — need of excellent stories that are not Trump related. As interested as readers are in the situation, and the numbers on our site show they are fascinated, there is also a thirst for great reads that are far off the political path.
Some staffers have asked worthwhile questions about whether they are allowed to contribute to activist organizations, and participate in marches and vigils and the like. The answer is that we encourage everyone to live a full, meaningful life outside of the Globe. Our journalism is actually the better for it. But we can’t allow our staffers to take part in activity that calls into question the essential fairness and neutrality of the Globe — more important now than ever. Our ethics policy is clear on this, in terms of forbidding contributions or other involvement in organizations or campaigns that push candidates, ballot questions, or legislation. You’ll ask about causes. We’ll fold most of those into the group as well.
Here’s all I ask: Use your very sizable brains and your best judgment, which I trust. If there’s any question, go to Chris Chinlund, Katie Kingsbury, or me. Think of our reputation and think of this vital moment. And please, be cautious on social media.
Finally, get some rest. This has been extraordinary in too many ways to mention here. We’ve done incredible journalism. And we have a lot of vital work ahead.
I swear that Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory does not send me these messages. But people do, and I thought this message to the Globe staff was worth sharing after what was a pretty amazing experience for all of us—let alone those who were trying to cover it as it unfolded.
From: McGrory, Brian
Date: Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 4:09 AM
Subject: Thank you
Well, that didn’t exactly follow the script.
Which is what made your collective performance all the more extraordinary tonight. At 7 o’clock, people were exchanging notes about exit polls that indicated an early bedtime. At 3 a.m., we were redrawing the site and the print edition to allow for Trump’s victory speech. Charlie Mansbach, who has seen quite a bit in his half century, said he’s never seen anything like this.
It actually began a couple of months ago when a team of technologists and designers began the work of creating the elections pages and interactive graphics, which were nothing short of breathtaking. For a good chunk of the night, we had well over 20,000 concurrents, peaking at over 25,000. We were a destination for a huge number of readers.
It’s easy to understand why. Not only did we have some of the best graphics in the industry, but the work from the field was beyond impressive, whether it was NY, DC, or in and around Boston. The Washington bureau turned on a dime to allow for Matt [Viser] to write his extraordinary analysis in what seemed like 20 minutes. The mainbar read like a breeze. Locally, the Metro crew wrote the hell out of the ballot questions and so much more.
Photo was what photo always is, which is wildly creative and ambitious. Our graphics team covered us all in glory. It was nothing short of great to have the world-class technologists sitting among us, keeping the site purring along. Ditto for the social media crew.
As these things always happen, the pressure ratcheted up through the night. What was different here was that it kept going through the morning. Chris Chinlund was like a maestro at her page 1 perch, bringing everything together for print, with David Dahl playing an equally impressive role. I’m told we caught 33,000 papers with the final news. On the digital front, we’ve grown to accept how great the bg.com team is, but you see it more clearly than ever on a night like this. Katie [Kingsbury] was effectively everywhere—and always deeply effective. Jason [Tuohey] is simply a rock and a rock star. There are so many others, too, up and down the chain. Give credit, too, to the talented team at boston.com for keeping their site filled with energy while also playing a key role steering readers to Globe journalism.
It literally took the work of over 100 people to accomplish what we did tonight, from eagle-eyed copy editors to systems managers who arm-wrestled with Methode [the Globe’s content-management system] when things got hairy at exactly the time they couldn’t. History was made, and you responded as you always do, with some of the highest quality journalism in the nation. Thank you, sincerely.
And now we’ll do it again.
If newspapers are going to survive and thrive, then various types of nonprofit/for-profit partnerships will almost certainly be part of the mix.
At the extreme end is the Philadelphia Inquirer, which, along with its sister paper, the Daily News, and their joint website, Philly.com, were donated earlier this year to the nonprofit Philadelphia Foundation. The media properties still need to find a way to break even, but it does save them from the pressure of cutting their way to profits in order to satisfy a corporate owner.
A more modest step was announced in today’s Boston Globe. Zoë Madonna, a young prize-winning critic, will be paid through a nonprofit grant to write about classical music for the next 10 months while Globe critic Jeremy Eichler is on leave at Harvard. The money will come from the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.
According to a press release from the Rubin Institute, which awarded her its 2014 prize in music criticism, the benefactors “will consider an ongoing strategy to support this endeavor on a national scale” once Madonna’s stint at the Globe has been completed. Globe editor Brian McGrory is quoted as saying:
We could not be more delighted to participate in this novel experiment with such worthy partners. We are excited about the benefit to our industry, to some of the great cultural institutions of Boston, and most especially to our readership, which will very much appreciate the proven talents of this young critic.