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

Tag: Taunton

Did you know that the Globe’s top listed price for 7-day print has hit $2,340 a year?

1915 photo by Lewis Wickes Hine via the Library of Congress

Did you know that a non-discounted, seven-day home-delivery subscription to the print edition of The Boston Globe now costs $2,340 a year? I didn’t. I should have — it’s right there in plain sight every day on the second page of the metro section, right below “New England in Brief”: $45 a week. We made the switch to digital some time ago, but I flip through the e-paper most days. It was Globe spokeswoman Heidi Flood who called my attention to it when I asked what the price was these days.

“We have a deep appreciation for the support of our home delivery subscribers that enable us to continue to produce and invest in award winning journalism,” she said by email.

Hiding in plain sight

The reason this came up is that a friend from Boston Phoenix days who lives in the suburbs wanted to know why the cost of her subscription had gone up so much. As recently as December, she’d been paying $1,665.60 a year, which struck me as awfully high; the last I’d known, the top price was somewhere between $1,400 and $1,500. Then she received an email from the Globe informing her that the cost would be going up another $5.70 a week, bringing the price to $1,962 per year. Her next step was to call customer service. She was told that the price should actually be $2,100 — but that he could get it down to $1,955. Such a deal!

I asked around on Facebook and Mastodon and got prices that were all over the place, though no one reported paying $2,340. A woman who lives just outside Boston (another Phoenix alum, as it turns out) told me she was paying $1,449.60 a year, which was more in line with what I thought the top price was. Several people were getting a senior discount which, depending on who I asked, meant that they were paying $884 or $1,046.20.

I also found out that the listed non-discounted price has risen a lot over the past few years. As recently as December, the top price was $1,976. In February 2020, it was $1,560. In January 2015, which is as far back as the e-paper archives go, it was $727.28. That means the cost has gone up by 189% over the past seven years.

Now, we’ve long known that the Globe charges more for print and digital subscriptions than just about any daily paper in the country. I think the top digital-only rate of about $30 a month —$1 a day — is reasonable, and that the Globe provides a lot of value. After all, we’re deep into the post-advertising age, and someone has to pick up the cost. But the price of a print subscription is ludicrously high, and I honestly don’t know how anyone can afford it. It also doesn’t help that the actual prices that people pay are all over the place.

You often hear that the print price is way too high for seniors, and that they’re the very group that doesn’t want to read the paper online. “I think of all the older people who still like print and probably won’t adapt well to digital,” my friend told me. Well, I have a suggestion. I’d argue that those of us who are in the 65-to-74 age bracket are either comfortable with digital, can afford print or both. But what about those who are 75 and older? Those are the folks who probably could use some help. Why not sell seven-day print to them at a loss as a goodwill gesture?

Finally, there’s the question of what the Globe is really up to with its print edition. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, the Globe’s paid print circulation in September 2022 (the most recent figures available) was about 64,000 on weekdays and 112,000 on Sundays. Digital was about 282,000 on weekdays and 298,000 on Sundays. That’s quite a change from March 2020, when print was 93,000 (159,000 on Sundays) and digital was 158,000 on weekdays (155,000 on Sundays.) Obviously readers are switching from print to digital in the tens of thousands. The Globe is also picking up a lot of new digital-only subscribers, which is why they’ve been able to keep growing while other news organizations are cutting their newsrooms.

(Note: I’m using the AAM’s figures for digital replica and nonreplica and adding them together. These are somewhat mysterious numbers that are quite a bit higher than the Globe’s own numbers for digital-only subscribers, but I’m using them because they’re publicly reported and I can make apples-to-apples comparisons.)

As I wrote recently after the Globe lost its contract to print The New York Times, you have to wonder what the eventual goal is. They’re not going to end the print edition anytime soon — not with the prices they’re charging. But are they seeking some magic number that hits their revenue targets while allowing them to outsource the printing so that they can close their 5-year-old Taunton plant? That’s pure speculation on my part. At a certain point, though, you have to wonder if it makes sense for the Globe do it their own printing.

The Globe loses its contract to print The New York Times

Sign outside the Globe’s printing plant in Taunton. Photo (cc) 2018 by Dan Kennedy.

The Boston Globe has lost its contract to print the regional edition of The New York Times at its Taunton facility. The Times will instead now be printed at the Dow Jones plant in Chicopee. Dow Jones is the parent company of The Wall Street Journal.

When the Globe’s Taunton printing plant opened in 2017, the hope was that it could turn a profit for the paper by taking on outside clients. The facility got off to a rough start, though, with publisher-owner John Henry writing a front-page note to subscribers admitting that the presses “are operating too slowly and breaking too often.” He added: “We are embarrassed. We are sincerely sorry to all those affected.” In my 2018 book, “The Return of the Moguls,” I described the launch of the Taunton plant as a “disaster.”

At one point, the Globe printed the Times, the Boston Herald and USA Today. The Herald decamped for The Providence Journal some time ago. When I asked Globe spokeswoman Heidi Flood whether the Taunton facility currently has any outside work, she answered only that “we are always exploring ways to bring more work into the plant.” She did say that Taunton now handles the entire Globe print run. At one time the Globe was jobbing some of its run out to The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover; I’m not sure when that stopped.

I’ve heard that the Taunton plant has laid some employees off as well, but Flood did not address that when I asked her about it by email. The full text of her statement follows.

I can confirm that the Times decided not to renew their printing contract with the Globe. We worked very hard over many months to keep their business in a way that also worked for ours, but were not able to arrive at a financially sustainable agreement. While the pending NYT departure is disappointing, from a business perspective it’s the right decision and positions us more favorably for the future.

The Times’s decision to print elsewhere will not affect our Globe print operations. Taunton currently handles the entire Globe print run and we are always exploring ways to bring more work into the plant. First and foremost, the Globe remains committed to meeting the needs of our valuable print subscribers.

McGrory hails Globe’s EPPY Award, praises staff and says print woes are easing

Here is the latest newsroom memo from Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory, sent out a little after 6 p.m. on Friday. A kind soul passed it on to me a short time later. First, a few observations of my own:

  • Six years after its debut, the Globe’s website still stacks up very well against those of most newspapers, so the EPPY Award is deserved. I could quibble, but it’s cleaner and faster than almost any other newspaper site. But the lack of a decent mobile experience remains a huge problem. Yes, the website is responsive and looks good on a phone. But it only works when you have a strong internet connection, which often isn’t available, especially on public transportation. I was told in late 2016 that the Globe was working on developing or licensing a new mobile app. It’s long overdue. For many of us, great mobile would be more useful than the Globe’s solving its print problems. Speaking of which:
  • As McGrory says, indications are that the horrendous printing and delivery problems associated with the new Taunton plant are easing. But based on anecdotal evidence, the Globe still has a way to go. If you’re still not getting your paper, or you’re not getting part of the paper, or it’s too late for you to be able to read it, or the print quality is terrible, then that’s a 100 percent failure, at least for you.
  • I couldn’t agree more on McGrory’s fifth point. The journalism remains excellent and vital. I would particularly point to Yvonne Abraham’s column on sexual harassment at the Statehouse, which, as McGrory notes, led to instant action.

The full text of McGrory’s memo follows.

Some quick and random thoughts to end the week:

1/ The Globe won Editor and Publisher’s EPPY Award for best daily newspaper website. This is a big damned deal, a tribute to everyone in this room and your tireless commitment to the distinctive journalism that fills the site hour after hour, day after day. Please take huge pride in this.

2/ Not for nothing, we added about 650 digital subscribers last week. We’ve roared past the 90,000 mark and are on our way to 100,000. This is yet more validation for your efforts.

3/ Our sports podcast, Season Ticket, continues to outperform all expectations — and is a flat out great listen. [Chris] Gasper’s fantastic, and our in-house guests — Nora [Princiotti], Pete [Abraham], Joe Sullivan, Alex [Speier], Fluto [Shinzawa], Ben [Volin] this week alone — are at once deeply knowledgeable and downright charming.

4/ The company is getting a higher quality paper on subscriber’s doorsteps with far greater consistency, such that we’ve been able to relax print deadlines in the room. It’s taken a lot of work on the second floor and in Taunton, and it’s really starting to show.

5/ The journalism continues to excel, and of that, you should be most proud. Yvonne today got a reaction from the House speaker within a couple of hours of posting her sharp and important column. There was Andrea [Estes] with another heart-breaking exclusive on the New Hampshire VA, Mark [Arsenault] on Vicki Kennedy, much of Sports with extraordinary deadline coverage of Gordon Hayward’s gruesome injury, our Amazon coverage (including the creative wrap), Shirley [Leung] excoriating Boston to appreciate itself, the DC bureau’s relentlessly fascinating coverage of all things Trump and Warren, and the Express Desk owning the moment, moment after moment. There’s much more that we’ve recently had, and there’s far more in the works. Thank you for it all, and as ever, please don’t let up.


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Globe notes: New photographer, new printing plant

• Looks like The Denver Post’s loss is The Boston Globe’s gain. Jim Romenesko reports that two-time Pulitzer-winning photographer Craig Walker is heading east. “He will be great there and do us all proud as a Post alum, but he will be missed,” Post editor Greg Moore tells his staff. Moore, as some of you know, is a former Globe managing editor.

• The Globe has finalized its deal to shift its printing operations to Taunton, clearing the way for sale of the paper’s Dorchester plant. The move will take place in 2017, according to the Globe’s Beth Healy. Charles Winokoor of the Taunton Gazette writes that folks in that city are pleased, but adds that at least one official is disheartened at the prospect of a two-year wait.

The Post’s data on hospice care should spur local editors

Click on image for interactive map at

Click on image for interactive map at

If I were running a news organization that covered Sudbury, Bedford, Amherst, Worcester, Northbridge, Taunton or Fall River, I’d be taking a close look at a database published on Sunday by The Washington Post.

According to an investigation by the Post, one in six hospices in the United States did not provide crisis care to their dying patients in 2012. “The absence of such care,” wrote Post reporters Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating, “suggests that some hospice outfits are stinting on nursing attention, according to hospice experts. Inspection and complaint records, meanwhile, depict the anguish of patients who have been left without care.”

And, indeed, Whoriskey and Keating offer some horror stories, starting with 85-year-old Ying Tai Choi, a Tampa, Florida, woman whose nurse abandoned her an hour before she died.

What gives the Post’s investigation value beyond its immediate impact, though, is that the paper uploaded the database it used to carry out its reporting. The Post says it analyzed Medicare billing records for more than 2,500 hospice organizations as well as “an internal Medicare tally of nursing care in patients near death and reviewed complaint records at hundreds of hospices.”

By showing its work, the paper has provided valuable leads for follow-up stories by news organizations across the country.

According to the database, 16 percent of 43 hospice facilities serving 22,865 patients in Massachusetts reported providing no crisis care in 2012. That percentage is right around the national average, though it is higher than any other New England state.

Under Medicare rules, a hospice must be able to provide crisis care to its terminally ill patients, which the Post tells us is “either continuous nursing care at home or an inpatient bed at a medical facility.” The Post is careful to point out that the mere fact that a facility did not provide crisis care in a given year is not evidence that there’s anything wrong. It’s possible that none of its patients needed it. A further explanation:

The absence of crisis care does not necessarily indicate a violation of the rules. But hospice experts say it is unlikely that larger hospices had no patients who required such care.

In other words, the database provides questions, not answers — precisely the information news organizations need for follow-up reports at the local level. Investigative reporting is expensive and time-intensive. The Post’s hospice story provides journalists with a great head start.

Neighbors reject Taunton casino plan by 2-1 margin

As you may have heard, Taunton voters overwhelmingly approved a tribal casino in a nonbinding referendum on Saturday. But that’s not even close to the whole story.

Residents who live closest to the proposed casino voted even more overwhelmingly against it. According to Cape Cod Times reporter George Brennan, the city voted  7,693 in favor and 4,571 opposed — but “in the two East Taunton precincts where the Mashpee Wampanoag casino is planned, voters rejected it by nearly a 2-1 margin.”

In the Taunton Gazette, reporter Christopher Nichols posts the numbers:

Ward 4 — which contains most of East Taunton — voted against the casino proposal with 755 in favor and 1,332 opposed. Voters closest to the proposed casino site in Ward 4 Precinct B voted against the proposal, 678-350.

Yet, with regard to Boston’s two daily newspapers, we’re already seeing a repeat of 2007. That’s when the big news was that Middleborough had voted in favor of a deal the selectmen had cut with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to build a casino in that town (big news!), and then turned around and took a decisive but nonbinding vote against the casino itself (shhhh … pay no attention).

The proposed Middleborough casino eventually fell apart, but town officials are still hoping there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Alice Elwell of the Brockton Enterprise has the latest.

So what happened with the Taunton vote? On Sunday, the Globe’s Mark Arsenault reported on Taunton’s vote in favor of the casino — but made no mention of the results in East Taunton. The Herald did better, publishing Brennan’s Cape Cod Times story (Herald publisher Pat Purcell runs several of Rupert Murdoch’s regional papers, including the Times). But today, the Herald offers a follow-up by Chris Cassidy and Laurel Sweet that omits the vote of the opposition in East Taunton.

Arsenault, in his Globe story, closes by noting that Taunton is a long way from actually hosting a tribal casino. Because of a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Carcieri v. Salazar, the Mashpee won’t be able to build a tribal casino in Taunton without an act of Congress. Good luck with that.

The Taunton vote demonstrates, once again, that no one wants to live next to a casino. Nor should they have to.

A final casino note: Former Boston mayor Ray Flynn turned out on Saturday to lend his support to East Boston residents opposed to a casino that’s been proposed for Suffolk Downs.

Given that the East Boston plan is already being portrayed as a done deal, it will be pretty interesting to see how a battle between Boston’s former and current mayors (Tom Menino supports the proposal) will play out.

Photo (cc) by s_falkow and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Taunton Gazette strikes back

Taunton Gazette publisher Sean Burke accuses Taunton school superintendent Julie Hackett of stonewalling his paper on the Jesus controversy (here and here), then turning around and complaining to the Boston Globe. Burke writes:

Neither the superintendent, nor any other administration official, has as of this writing, contacted this newspaper related to charges of inaccuracies or libelous reporting. Instead, the administration has chosen to address these issues through The Boston Globe. While this is certainly the superintendent’s right, her candor with the Globe in describing the issues related to this incident not only stand in contradiction to her previous position regarding confidentiality of the student, but they appear to represent an attempt to undermine the credibility of  the Taunton Daily Gazette through The Boston Globe.

(Via Romenesko.)

More on Taunton and Jesus

I just posted a long e-mail to Media Nation from Boston Globe reporter David Abel, whose story in today’s paper did much to debunk the claim that a Taunton second-grader had been punished for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.

Though I still think Taunton school superintendent Julie Hackett has a disconcerting habit of invoking confidentiality whenever it’s convenient, Abel makes a number of good points about this fiasco, and I highly recommend that you read his e-mail.

I’d also like to invite Taunton Gazette reporter Gerry Tuoti and editor Dino Ciliberti to check in.


6a00d83451c45669e20120a75559d2970b-800wiThere’s a lesson for journalists and a lesson for public officials in what is proving to be a fiasco.

It began on Monday, when the Taunton Gazette reported that a second-grader had been sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation because he drew a picture of Jesus on the cross.

The boy’s father told the Gazette that his son drew the picture in response to a class assignment in which students were asked to draw something that made them think of Christmas. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re violating his religion,” the father, Charles Johnson, told Gazette reporter Gerry Tuoti.

The story created a brief sensation, as it seemed to be another example of political correctness run amok. But it began falling apart almost immediately. Today, David Abel writes in the Boston Globe that Taunton school officials say there was no class assignment, and that the boy’s teacher became alarmed when she found the drawing because the boy told her it was himself, not Jesus, on the cross.

For good measure, Johnson comes across in the Globe like he’s only interested in one thing: money. He is quoted as saying he wants “a small lump sum” and that his family “should be compensated for our pain and suffering.”

What strikes me about Tuoti’s original Gazette story is the pains he took to confirm it. He contacted the boy’s principal, Rebecca Couet, who referred all comment to school superintendent Julie Hackett. Hackett, in turn, declined to say anything, calling it “a confidential matter regarding a student.”

Given that, there are not too many news organizations that wouldn’t run with the story. (And, in fact, Abel’s Globe story freely bashes the Gazette in a way I find unwarranted — though Gazette editor Dino Ciliberti could have helped himself if he’d returned Abel’s calls.)

So the first lesson, for journalists, is that just because officialdom does not avail itself of an opportunity to knock down your story, that shouldn’t be taken as confirmation. (On a far more cosmic level, I recall that CBS News was very excited when someone showed those phony National Guard documents about George W. Bush to then-White House spokesman Scott McClellan, and that McClellan didn’t dispute their authenticity.)

Would I have run with the story? Yes, I would have, and I suspect most editors and news directors would have as well. And I don’t think the Gazette has anything to be embarrassed about. But if I were a television reporter who stuck a microphone in the faces of passersby to ask them what they thought of Taunton’s war on Christmas, I’d be just a little bit chagrined right now.

The second lesson is for public officials, and it’s rather simple: When you choose not to comment in response to a reporter’s inquiry, use your imagination and picture the consequences. And tell the truth.

Why am I suggesting that there was a lack of candor? Because, on Monday, superintendent Hackett told the Gazette she was forbidden from talking about an individual student. And on Tuesday, she couldn’t shut up. Abel writes:

She [Hackett] said the drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, on the cross, which prompted the teacher to alert the school’s principal and staff psychologist. As a result, the boy underwent a psychological evaluation….

“In this case, as in any other case involving the well-being of a student, the administration acted in accordance with the School Department’s well-established protocol,’’ she said in a statement. “This protocol is centered upon the student’s care, well-being, and educational success. The protocol includes a review of the student’s records.”

That’s quite an outburst of non-confidential verbiage. And it strongly suggests that Hackett was either being less than candid when she told the Gazette on Monday that she couldn’t address the issue, or that she intentionally violated the boy’s privacy on Tuesday in an attempt to clean up the mess. My guess is that it was the former. (I also hope the Gazette on Monday did not let her believe that she had succeeded in killing the story.)

In her interview with the Globe, Hackett accuses the Gazette of not giving school officials sufficient time to respond. That’s a serious charge, but it doesn’t square with her telling the Gazette that she couldn’t speak about a “confidential” matter.

Hackett also calls the Gazette’s report “totally inaccurate.” In fact, she has misdiagnosed the problem. It was entirely accurate, but it appears not to have been true. She needs to take some responsibility for that.

More coverage from the Gazette and the Boston Herald. Here is some right-wing reaction to the initial story (via Chris Bodenner). And here is a lengthy statement from the Taunton School Department, which, of course, would never violate the confidentiality of its students.

Update: The Globe’s David Abel offers some further thoughts in the comments.

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