As the Phoenix’s media writer, I spend a lot of time writing about the struggles of other news outlets--in particular, the woes of the Boston Globe, whose very existence is currently in question. And I’m periodically asked by other journalists: “So, how are things at the Phoenix?” My response tends to be vague, and to reflect my (intentional) lack of knowledge about my employer’s finances: Like every other print publication, I think we’re hurting a bit--but so far we haven’t had any layoffs, knock on wood.
The Globe publisher's plan for the paper (and Boston.com) was described in an email sent to staffers earlier today.
Much of what's discussed is familiar (e.g., the union negotiations and the Yahoo partnership). However, this is the first I've heard of the Globe seeking new digital revenue sources that don't compromise advertising.
This step was announced in two emails today, one from Times Co. vice chairman Michael Golden and one from Globe publisher Steve Ainsley. Here they are; note the possible implications of the move for Boston's nonprofit community:
Dear Colleagues,It is with sadness that I write to tell you that The New York Times Company Foundation is suspending grant making and the matching gifts program.
Earlier tonight, Dan Totten--head of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the paper's biggest union--emailed his membership regarding Friday's "Save the Globe" rally at Faneuil Hall. The email follows; note, in particular, the emphasis on getting Globe journalists to the event.
As I've previously written, the divide between the Guild's newsroom and non-newsroom members is one of the more interesting subplots of the current Globe crisis.
Advertising revenue for the NYT Co.'s New England Media Group--which includes the Globe and the Worcester T&G--dropped nearly 32 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.
By way of comparison, the New York Times Media Group's ad revenue fell about 27 percent. Which is pretty bad too, and will only increase the Times Co.
I may have missed the biggest precondition set by the Boston Newspaper Guild earlier today re: its concession talks with the New York Times Co.--and the AP may have, too. Sharp-eyed readers tell me that the Guild statement effectively says the union has no intention of discussing the paper's lifetime job guarantees or their possible elimination.
Here's the latest statement from the Boston Newspaper guild, the Globe's largest union, on what it is and isn't prepared to offer in negotiations with the NYT Co.
The requests that jumped out at me are flagged in the title of this post: the Guild wants to negotiate publicly, enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with the Times Co.
Congrats to Doug Most, formerly the editor of the Globe Magazine, who's been named the paper's deputy managing editor/features.
Structurally, Most's appointment seems eminently sensible. (It also raises the question of why the Globe didn't have a features czar until now--better late than never, perhaps?) It can also be taken as an indication that Globe editor Marty Baron thinks the Globe will survive its current crisis--or at least, is determined to act as if it will.
DQM was just forwarded a copy of a survey the Boston Newspaper Guild sent to its membership, apparently today, seeking employee thoughts on how to proceed in negotiations.
I've pasted the survey below; apologies in advance for any formatting funkiness. Note that respondents are given the possibility of linking wage concessions to similar concessions by management, which strikes me as eminently reasonable, given the fat, non-outcome-driven compensation that top execs at the Times Co.
Today's Globe story on the concessions the NYT Co. is seeking from the Globe's mailers mentions a letter sent by Boston Newspaper Guild head Dan Totten to his membership (which doesn't include the mailers), noting that Totten urged his members to speak with one voice and not be bullied by the Times Co.
I've been forwarded the letter in question.
A question: If Boston Globe publisher Steve Ainsley can talk about the paper's crisis to its advertisers (as the Herald's Jay Fitzgerald reports today) and its employees, why can't he comment for the Globe and Times reporters covering the story--and thus for the general public?
I'll be joining Emily Rooney, Joe Sciacca, Callie Crossley, and my close personal friend Dan Kennedy tonight on Greater Boston's Beat the Press. Our topic? The Globe crisis, natch. Please tune in if you can.
Eileen McNamara says the New York Times Co. treats the Globe like a "cheap whore." Rory O'Connor agrees. Given that the Times Co. is threatening to close the paper--without even deigning to publicly comment on this threat--I understand why they're pissed.
But without defending the Times Co.'s current MO, let me play devil's advocate.
The Boston Newspaper Guild is the biggest union at the Globe, and the union that's currently being asked by the NYT Co. to make the biggest sacrifices to prevent the paper from closing. As such, it's poised to help shape the future of Boston journalism, for better or worse. But only one member of the Guild's seven-member executive committee--Kathy McCabe, the union's recording secretary, who's a correspondent for the Globe North section--actually works as a journalist.
In which I discuss the deafening silence from the Times Co.; the Globe's solicitation of character references from the MA political establishment; and the bogus claim that the Globe's in trouble because it's a liberal rag. Please take a look.