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The future of the Boston Globe

The New York Times owns the Boston Globe and is asking the unions to come up with $20M in savings. According to a report on WBUR this morning, the Times isn’t even giving the unions enough time to go through their own legal processes for making such decisions. So, here are some possible outcomes:

The Globe folds.

The Globe is bought, presumably by someone with a drug problem.

The Globe becomes an insert in the New York Times. The insert covers not just local news but maintains some of the Globe’s identity, personality, and personalities. (Also, the comics.) If I were the NYT, I’d be running spreadsheets to see if folding the Globe into the NYT (quite literally) would increase local circulation and ads enough to make it worth the considerable operating expenses.

And, as an auxiliary idea, I wonder if people would be willing to pay for online access to the Globe if it did two things: 1. Continue to provide free access to individual articles, for we need to be able to link to them both to keep the Globe relevant and to grow our culture. 2. Enhance the current Globe site so that it has more of the unitary newspaper feel. That is, let us have more of a sense that we’re reading an object that has a start and a finish, so that we’re tempted to sit down with it once a day and go through it. Let us turn pages until we’re done. (Of course, the pages would be full of links.) Provide us with all the electronic reading tools we could ever want, but tempt us to treat it as a whole through which we take a walk every day. And charge us $100/ year for the privilege. Since we’d be able to get at any of the individual articles for free, the Globe would be charging us for the online equivalent of curling up with the paper in the morning.

I acknowledge that that may be the stupidest idea since unsliced bread, and perhaps it is merely an old fogey desire. But, heck, it’s not like I’m writing for a responsible newspaper!

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2 Responses to “The future of the Boston Globe”

  1. Newspapers need apparently need endowments to stay in business. Sadly, fewer readers means that many will fail otherwise. And that would be a great shame for us all.

  2. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has now moved to a higher plane, leaving to the Internet much of its identity and personality, as well as a skeleton crew of personalities, but alas, it’s not the same. Even in its last, reduced, months on paper, the variety of stories in any PI section still maintained the illusion of a wealth of information, while the electronic version, links and all, seems sparse by comparison. I’m not sure how it fits with McLuhan’s distinctions, but newspapers seem to be an ironic case in which a serial, linear medium seems to reflect the world’s variety better than the new, one-knothole-at-a-time, electronic version.

    The Huffington Post seems to be influenced by newspaper layout, a classic example of a new technology imitating the old technology it is replacing, but its simultaneous clutter, with the content hidden behind the need to click each story in turn, make it obvious that we have a ways to go as yet.

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