Boston Herald Eyes Looming Mass. ‘Spudpocalypse’

January 24, 2022

The feisty local tabloid’s Sean Philip Cotter has done area residents a potato solid with this story in today’s edition of the paper.

An impending ‘Spudpocalyspe’

Could Canadian crackdown keep US shelves bare?

A new advertising campaign warns of an impending “spudpocalypse,” chipping into potato supplies and driving price spikes in Massachusetts as Prince Edward Island tubers are hit with a moratorium on exports.

“Shelves will soon be bare … help us stop the spudpocalypse,” blares a video clip for the ad campaign’s new website — spudpocalypse.com. The spot that also features a hand labeled “USDA” swatting away cartoon potatoes as a crunchy rock guitar grooves.

The campaign, from the PEI Potato Board — an industry group for the Canadian province’s spud growers — is meant to gin up public pressure here in potato-hungry Massachusetts after Canadian and U.S. food safety authorities cut the export of potatoes from Prince Edward Island over fears of “potato wart.”

We recommend you read Cotter’s entire piece, as it’s stuffed with puns both tasty and otherwise. Here’s the spot he mentioned, which has been viewed by 1386 YouTubers.

 

 

Sounds pretty drastic. And what has the Boston Globe done about the pending potato famine? Nothing. The Globeniks have totally frittered away the chance to alert the public. Some would say they need to be whipped – into shape, that is. If anyone finds that notion ap-peeling.


Might John Henry Sell STAT to the New York Times?

January 7, 2022

Boston GlobeSox owner John Henry’s sports shopping spree is apparently not over yet.

His Fenway Sports Group – which includes the Boston Red Sox, the Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Sports Management,50% of RFK Racing, and 80% of NESN – added the Pittsburgh Penguins to that roster last month. Now Henry is looking to drop an NBA franchise into his cart, as Justin Leger reported at NBC Sports Boston back in November.

John Henry and Tom Werner hope to add an NBA team to their sports investment empire, according to a report posted by Axios . . . The news comes just days after it was revealed the Boston Red Sox ownership group was nearing a deal to buy the NHL’s Penguins for roughly $875 million.

It is not yet known which NBA teams Fenway Sports Group has on its radar, but Axios states that it is expected to seek out a target sometime in 2022.

Coincidentally, the New York Times is also in an acquisitive mood; the Grey Lady is coughing up $550 million – in cash – for subscription sports site The Athletic. And the Times is not stopping there, according to this CNBC report by Lauren Feiner and Alex Sherman.

The Athletic signals a potential future acquisition strategy by the NYT to target niche, community-based journalism enterprises with high-interest audiences willing to pay subscription fees for reporting. Sites that specialize in science, tech, and other specific interests are likely future targets for the Times, said the source who spoke with CNBC.

So let’s think this through: John Henry wants to buy an NBA franchise (average value: $2.4 billion). The Times wants to buy verticals such as, oh, STAT – the medical and biotech site Henry launched in 2015. According to Rick Edmunds at Poynter, STAT has seen its traffic grow fivefold and its staff increase by 50% since the start of the pandemic.

Sounds like a natural. The harddealing staff should get 10% if it goes through, don’t you think?


Wait – Boston Globe Readers Don’t Smoke Weed?

January 3, 2022

As the hardreading staff was perusing the local dailies today, we came across this full-page Boston Herald ad for a new marijuana store just down the block from the Lyric Little Bandbox.

We especially liked the jaunty tone of its pitch to become text buddies with the cannabis retailer: “Get updates on exciting products, brands, events, and more sent directly to your phone. Or maybe we’ll just check in, see how you’re doing. Who knows? New relationships are exciting.”

According to this piece by Forbes senior contributor Javier Hasse, MedMen needs all the new relationships it can get.

Publicly traded cannabis company MedMen has had a turbulent year, having had to deal with management shakeups, the ousting of its co-founders and lawsuits. And, although the stock is still up about 16% year-to-date, it has fallen considerably from the $1.29 per share value it reached in February – it’s now under $0.20.

Under the circumstances, we figured there would be a similar Grand Opening ad in the Boston Globe. But . . . nothing. Which is strange given that the stately local broadsheet actually has a Bong Bureau, ably manned by cannabis reporter Dan Adams, who also writes the This Week in Weed newsletter.

Memo to MedMen: Don’t bogart that ad, my friend – pass it over to the Globe.


Boston Herald Publisher Moonlights at Hartford Daily

November 19, 2021

Kevin Corrado is the publisher of the Boston Herald, as the feisty local tabloid duly – and daily – notes on its masthead.

 

 

But now Corrado, who in his spare time is also Regional Publisher at MediaNews Group: Northeast Cluster: Massachusetts & New York, is expanding that expansive portfolio to include the Nutmeg State.

According to Stephen Singer’s piece in the Hartford Courant, its publisher and editor-in-chief Andrew Julien – a 30-year veteran of the paper – is switching teams to become executive editor of Tribune Publishing’s New York Daily News.

Meanwhile . . .

MediaNews Group Regional Publisher Kevin Corrado will take over business operations at the Courant on an interim basis and begin the search for a new editor in Hartford.

“Andrew has been a wonderful steward for the Courant, and while we’re sorry to see him go, our loss is New York’s gain,” Corrado said.

 

To call that eyewash is an insult to saline solution everywhere.

Memo to the few, the proud, the remaining Heraldniks: Think of the whole thing this way – it’ll be that many fewer hours Corrado can work on strip-mining the shrinky local tabloid for the last few dollars he can squeeze out of it.

One hopes.


Essaibi George Plays the Hub Card in Her Herald Ad

October 23, 2021

Annissa Essaibi George is apparently undaunted by the flak she took a few weeks ago (see Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham for the receipts) after painting her mayoral opponent Michelle Wu as an outsider not “born and raised” in Boston.

That “native Bostonian” yardstick is not just old – it’s outdated, as Nik DeCosta-Kilpa noted at boston.com.

[T]he contention that growing up in Boston was “relevant” in a city where 57 percent of residents were born outside Massachusetts elicited online criticism from Wu supporters accusing Essaibi George of the type of nativism that was once endemic to Boston’s politics.

Regardless, Essaibi George took to the pages of the Boston Herald today to play the same tune.

Here’s Page One.

 

Here’s page 3.

 

The body copy features endorsements from the Massachusetts Nurses Association, IBEW Local 2222, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 17. Sharp-eyed readers will also note the presence of former Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross, who is listed as the Chair of Real Progress Boston Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee.

According to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Financing, the group spent $600,250 supporting Essaibi George from 8/31/21 through 9/20/21; $495,000 of it contributed by New Balance Chairperson Jim Davis, who has also cut a six-figure check for Donald J. Trump.

Other top contributors, according to the ad, are local car magnate Herb Chambers, Boston real estate mogul Oleg Uritsky, and New England general contractor J. Derenzo Co.

Your conclusions go here.


Boston Globe Lets Doonesbury Strip Kind of . . . Lie

October 11, 2021

First, a disclaimer: The hardreading staff believes that the new Texas vigilante abortion law is an abomination, given that it essentially outlaws abortions in the One Star State.

Accent on essentially, since the bounty-hunting law technically bans abortions after six weeks.

But that’s not what the Boston Globe allowed Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau to charge in its Sunday comics page.

Here’s the problematic panel.

 

 

That’s flat out false.

If the left wants to hold the right accountable for misleading – or lying – to the voting public, the reverse has got to be true as well.

Not to mention Trudeau.


Pas de D’oh! Boston Dailies Skip Local Ballet Scandal

August 2, 2021

Saturday’s New York Times featured a pretty explosive story by reporter Julia Jacobs about a former Boston Ballet principal dancer and her husband.

Mitchell Taylor Button was accused of abuse, and his wife, Dusty Button, a dancer with a large Instagram following, was accused of participating in some of it but not named as a defendant.

A pair of professional dancers filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing a former dance teacher of sexually assaulting and abusing them, and accusing his wife — an internet-famous ballerina who has danced with the Boston Ballet — of participating in some of that abuse.

The former teacher — who has been known by several names, but is called Mitchell Taylor Button in the suit — is married to Dusty Button, who was a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet and who has amassed more than 300,000 Instagram followers and several corporate sponsorships with viral photos and videos of her dancing.

Locally, WBUR’s Amelia Mason also had the story over the weekend.

One of the plaintiffs, Sage Humphries, is currently a dancer with the Boston Ballet. In 2017, she was a member of Boston Ballet II, the company’s apprenticeship program. The suit says that Dusty Button, then a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet, lured Humphries into an increasingly abusive and controlling relationship with herself and her husband. According to the suit, Mitchell Taylor Button sexually assaulted Humphries on a regular basis over the course of some months and performed violent sex acts on her without her consent. It says that on several occasions, Dusty Button held Humphries down while her husband sexually assaulted the young dancer. The lawsuit also accuses Mitchell Taylor Button of verbal and physical abuse.

The Boston Ballet has released this statement in support of Sara Humphries.

Who we haven’t heard from (just before 6 pm on Monday) are the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Talk about being a step behind . . .


Two Buck Shuck: Boston Herald Touts ‘Premium Plus’

July 28, 2021

Well the hardrreading staff opened up the old emailbag yesterday and here’s what poured out.

According to the Herald’s Digital Subscription Frequently Asked Questions, a regular digital subscription includes:

  • Unlimited, exclusive journalism from our reporters and photographers.
  • Opinions and reviews from columnists and critics.
  • Daily access to the Digital Replica edition, an exact replica of what we print and produce each day.

So your two bucks is basically buying you a) No Pop-up or Video Ads, and b) 2x Faster Page Loads for the next  six months. Which is all good. Except . .

1) You’ll pay $4 per week for Premium Plus after that, and

2) That whole “trusted news, analysis, and interviews” thing has been gutted like a sea bass by the Herald’s bloodsucking hedge fund owner, Alden Global Capital.

The Herald newsroom – which, again thanks to the paper’s vulture-capital owners, has been forced to shack up with its kissin’ cousins at the Lowell Sun – can barely field a soccer team at this point. It’s gotten so bad at the scrawny local tabloid that executive editor Joe Dwinell has been known to write two or three pieces in a day for the paper.

Go ask the Boston Globe’s Brian McGrory how often he hits send on a story about, say, a Martha’s Vineyard porn lawsuit.

The hardreading staff – despite our often gimlet eye – has long been #TeamHerald, if only to keep the stately local broadsheet a bit less overbearing. But we wonder how long the flimsy local tabloid can keep offering less content for more money, as Alden relentlessly strip mines it like West Virginia coal country.

Maybe a “Premium Minus” Go Fund Me page is in order right about now.


Only Boston Herald Readers Buy Black Market Cigs?

July 15, 2021

Last month Philip Morris International launched an advertising campaign to spotlight, and obviously decry, illicit trafficking of cigarettes. The campaign also mentions other counterfeit goods – cell phones, laptop batteries, Marilyn Monroe-abilia –  just to make it seem a bit less self-serving.

PMI press release:

Philip Morris International Launches New Campaign to Combat Black Market Trade

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) today launched a public education initiative entitled United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) to combat black market trade. Supported by a coalition of national and state private and public sector partners, the campaign will provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers.

The campaign will run through 2021 in eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The PR flack forgot, however, to mention Massachusetts; PMI’s campaign came to the Bay State yesterday via this full-page Boston Herald ad. (The campaign’s website also omits Massachusetts.)

Here’s the text.

Interestingly, the hardreading staff looked in vain for the ad in the Boston Globe – both yesterday and today. What to make of that? Are we to infer that the readers of the stately local broadsheet are unconcerned about the trafficking in illicit goods? Or that they’re too posh to stoop to black market cigarettes, unlike their counterparts at the sneaky local tabloid.

Your conclusion goes here.


Boston Dailies Ignore Intercept’s Baker Bomb$hell

July 7, 2021

Let’s stipulate from the outset that The Intercept is a media outlet that pushes a progressive agenda hard enough to break a wrist (h/t Raymond Chandler). Even so, Matthew Cunningham-Cook’s deep dive into how Gov. Charlie Baker has appeared to play footsie with his financial backers is pretty eye-popping.

FIRMS THAT BACKED GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S PRO-CHARTER INITIATIVE SCORED MILLIONS IN CONTRACTS WITH MASSACHUSETTS PENSION FUND

Three private equity investment managers who supported the Yes on 2 campaign in 2016 have since seen their companies receive a windfall of new investments.

IN THE 2016 ELECTION, executives at high-fee, high-risk investment firms poured cash into a Massachusetts pro-charter school initiative championed by Gov. Charlie Baker. In the years since, those investment firms have reaped a total of $320 million in new lucrative investment management contracts with the state pension fund.

The Massachusetts Pension Reserve Investment Management Board, which oversees more than $74 billion in assets covering 300,000 beneficiaries, frequently touts its investment performance that helps to provide $1 billion in benefits annually. Baker sits on the MassPRIM Board via a designee and appoints two additional members.

A comparison of the pension fund’s return to a straight and simple 70/30 portfolio — wherein 70 percent is allocated toward the S&P 500 and 30 percent goes to a blue-chip bond index fund — reveals underperformance, with the pension returning 10.4 percent annualized for the five years ending December 31, 2020, and the index fund returning 11.58 percent, costing the commonwealth of Massachusetts, its taxpayers, and active and retired public employees more than $5 billion over that period

The numbers are knee-buckling. According to the Intercept piece, executives from three private equity investment managers – Summit Partners, Berkshire, and Charlesbank Capital Partners – funneled $1.34 million in contributions to various pro-charter school groups in 2016 and subsequently reaped $475 million in MassPRIM investment commitments between 2016 and 2018.

Beyond that, according to the Intercept piece, the three firms are reaping unusually large profits from their management of taxpayer dollars.

Summit, Charlesbank, and Berkshire are all so-called alternative investments, meaning that they are subject to much less regulation than public companies and charge enormous fees that are typically 2 percent of assets and 20 percent of performance, which is over 5,000 percent higher than index funds for ordinary stocks and bonds, which can have fees as low as 0.04 percent or lower.

Even worse, the piece says that two of the investment firms have produced returns that significantly trail those of the S&P 500. MassPRIM declined to provide performance data about the third firm.

Also trailing? The local dailies. The Intercept piece dropped five days ago, and so far we haven’t heard a peep out of the Boston Globe or the Boston Herald. We get it that news organizations avoid Xerox journalism whenever possible, but surely five days is long enough to 1) move the story forward,  2) poke holes in it, or 3) get Charlie Baker to address it.

Or are we missing something here.