Circulation Disputation

October 31, 2012

There’s no bigger story for the local dailies than their circulation figures, and, boy, do the two tell different tales today.

Boston Herald:

Herald sees readership spike

The reach of the Boston Herald is greater than ever before as the brand of its quality journalism is showing strong growth across digital platforms.

The numbers tell the story: Print readership up 15 percent daily over last year to nearly a half-million. A whopping 47 percent growth in weekly e-edition readers. An impressive 2.6 million unique visitors a month to, an 18 percent spike over last year.

“The Herald’s audience is stronger than ever — and that success is clearly the result of a relevant news-gathering operation and a point of view that starts the conversation every day,” said Herald President and Publisher Patrick J. Purcell.

(Point of view, yes; relevant – not so sure.)

Those are some intriguing numbers, especially the “whopping 47 percent growth in weekly e-edition readers,” considering that (as best the hardreading staff can tell) even the Herald’s 17 home subscribers have to pay for the e-paper. Not to mention the whopping increase could be from two to three (give or take).

The Herald piece uncharacteristically lacks the traditional broadsheet broadside twisting the Globe’s numbers, but it does feature this statement from auto maven Ernie Boch Jr.: “I consider Bostonians lucky to be in a two-paper town.”

Hey – that’s what we say!

The Herald’s numbers are even more intriguing when you factor in this Globe piece:

Digital sales help spur 12% jump in Globe circulation

Boston Herald falls nearly 15 percent

The Boston Globe’s daily circulation rose nearly 12 percent during the six-month period that ended Sept. 30, buoyed by growth in digital subscriptions, according to an organization that tracks newspaper readership.

The Globe’s circulation, including subscriptions to, increased 11.9 percent to 230,351, compared with the same six months in 2011, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Globe’s Sunday circulation, including digital subscriptions, grew 3.4 percent to 372,541.

The Boston Herald’s daily circulation fell below 100,000 in the period. The tabloid’s circulation declined by 14.9 percent to 96,860, compared to same period a year ago, according to the bureau. The Herald’s Sunday circulation was 77,764, down 9.4 percent.

Just to clarify:

1) The Globe includes digital subscriptions in its figures, but just print copies in the Herald’s. 2) The Herald cites readership, and seems to be saying that five people read every copy of the feisty local tabloid.

As best we can tell.

Anyway, here are the Audit Bureau of Circulations numbers, which include the Globe but not the Herald.

Read ’em and weep.

(For more detail, check Dan Kennedy’s post at Media Nation.)


Scott Brown ‘Certainly’ Dodges Final Debate with Elizabeth Warren

October 31, 2012

Yesterday Scott Brown (R-I’ll Only Debate Hurricane Sandy) cancelled his fourth and final debate with challenger Elizabeth Warren (D-Hurricane Liz), after saying that “the two candidates will ‘certainly’ have the debate before Election Day, if not Tuesday, then later in the week,” according to the Associated Press (via WBUR).

Cut to today’s Boston Globe (updated version here):

Brown cancels fourth debate with Warren

Senator Scott Brown, after insisting for days that he was eager for a final face-off with Elizabeth Warren, said on Tuesday that he did not believe another debate was necessary and that he would not be able to reschedule the one that was canceled because of the storm.

“With only days remaining in the campaign, and with a long-planned bus tour kicking off Thursday through Election Day that will take Scott Brown to every corner of the Commonwealth, our calendar simply cannot accommodate a rescheduling of this fourth debate and the planning and preparation that would go into it,” read a statement from campaign manager Jim Barnett sent late Tuesday.

The Boston Herald, no surprise, has a different take on the Brown out.

Joe Battenfeld column:

Voters have heard enough already

Let’s see, meet with voters or take part in one more debate organized by an unfriendly media conglomerate?

This was a no-brainer for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. Pick the voters.

Democrats and some in the media are predictably in a lather about the Republican incumbent forgoing a fourth televised debate, but the fact is Brown has already taken part in one more debate than then-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy did in 1994.

Howie Carr column:

No debate about it, Scott Brown made the right call

Good for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. Why should he do the Globe a favor and show up at their fakakta debate?

So he can listen yet again to Granny Warren yapping about the middle class getting “hammered,” and how Brown voted against a bill to produce “jobs” (which in this context means taxes)? How much more nonsense does he have to hear about Roe v. Wade?

Trick or treat indeed.

Boston Herald editorial:

Debate debate redux

The Democratic blogosphere is simply agog at the notion that there was no Senate debate here last night — and they seem intent on blaming incumbent Scott Brown. The fact that his challenger, Elizabeth Warren, sent in her cancellation moments later seems not to matter much.

In fact, the one thing these two agreed on was that, as Warren’s campaign put it Monday, “Elizabeth believes the focus now must be on public safety and ensuring people get the help they need during the storm and its aftermath.”

But to look at our email in-box, you’d think Brown had personally arranged for Hurricane Sandy to blow up the East Coast just so he could avoid one more match-up with Warren. “He makes it sound as if the reason that he can’t debate is that he’s just too busy manning rowboats and handing out blankets,” wrote one voter who — we’re just guessing now — has already made up his mind in the race.

In fact, after three TV debates polls show the “undecideds” in single digits and frankly some of those are just toying with pollsters anyway.

The same way Scott Brown is toying with voters?

Just askin’.

Storm und Drag

October 30, 2012

The Boston Herald’s coverage of the local Hurricane Sandy coverage is all about The Dress.

From the Track Gals (and Megan!):

Bianca de la Garza’s dress weathers storm

The local TV stations were whipped into an 81 mph frenzy by Hurricane Sandy yesterday, and while the record barometric pressure, killer tides and flying projectiles were all very interesting, inside the Track Shack we were most mesmerized by Bianca de la Garza’s red dress.

Channel 5’s morning anchor reported for duty looking like she had just come from da club, in a slinky, skin-tight red number with cutaway cleavage that came to a knot at her shoulder. Va, va voom!

Meanwhile, the rest of the journalism world was in hurricane drag, as The Track helpfully illustrated in this side-by-side composite:


That’s (top to bottom) WHDH’s Victoria Block, WHDH’s Steve Cooper, and WCVB’s Susan Wornick, for those of you keeping score at home.

And speaking of keeping score, the hardreading staff checked the Boston Globe, but they apparently pulled their reporters off the Bianca beat.

Once again, the Track stands alone.


Brown/Warren Debate and Ditch

October 30, 2012

So the fourth and final debate between Sen. Scott Brown (R-I’ll Only Debate Sandy) and challenger Elizabeth Warren (D-Okay Then) is officially off. But, as usual, the local dailies have very different versions of the debatement.

From the Boston Globe:

Citing hurricane, Scott Brown pulls out of final US Senate debate; Elizabeth Warren follows suit

Senator Scott Brown, citing the danger posed by Hurricane Sandy, has pulled out of his fourth and final debate with Elizabeth Warren, which was scheduled to take place Tuesday evening in Boston and be broadcast live on television.

“It is simply not appropriate to go forward with a political debate when a disaster strikes,” Brown’s spokesman, Colin Reed, said in a statement released this afternoon. “The focus for all of us before, during, and after the storm needs to be on emergency response and disaster relief, not campaigns and politics.”

Reed’s statement did not indicate whether the senator wanted to reschedule after the storm subsides.

In a statement, Warren campaign manager Mindy Myers agreed with not debating Tuesday, but sounded open to a possible rescheduling . . .

The debate’s organizers, a consortium of Boston media outlets that includes the Globe, had been planning to go ahead with the hour-long debate.

The Boston Herald painted a very different picture:

Scott Brown frees TV stations from a sticky situation

The local TV stations are off the hook — thanks to U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.

A consortium of media, which includes Channels 2, 5, 7 and New England Cable News, had planned to decide this morning whether to hold tonight’s final debate between Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren — as the Storm of the Century dominates the news.

Had they come to the conclusion that the showdown must go on, the TV outlets would be grappling today with the dilemma of choosing storm coverage or politics in the throes of an important ratings “sweeps” month.

Brown made the decision an easy one when he bailed out of the debate yesterday. “The focus for all of us before, during and after the storm needs to be on emergency response and disaster relief, not campaigns and politics,” his campaign said in a statement.

No question – when it’s a choice between StormCast and storm und drang, the weather wins out every time.

That’s pretty much all you need to know about the current political media climate, isn’t it?


Globe Wins the Senate Endorsement Bakeoff

October 28, 2012

As old friend Dan Kennedy notes today at Media Nation, the Boston Globe has published a smashmouth endorsement of Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate that tunes up Scott Brown pretty good.

In Senate, Warren would lead where Brown has fallen short

Ted Kennedy has been dead for more than three years, but his shadow hangs over the battle for his old seat between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren. It’s the people’s seat, all right, and the citizens of Massachusetts deserve a senator who can represent their interests and their values . . .

After three years in office, Brown can point to a few high-profile instances when he’s bucked his party. But his longer-term priorities — the issues on which he would stake his career — aren’t easily discernible. In the Senate, he’s held back on divisive matters like repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” often making up his mind after most of his colleagues have already weighed in. By then, it’s too late for him to have a major impact. Meanwhile, vital Massachusetts needs like medical research and renewable energy aren’t properly addressed. As a political moderate, Brown has major clout in a polarized Senate — but Massachusetts has too little to show for it. The problem is less with Brown’s political skills, which are obvious, or his centrist values, than in his conception of the job. He often seems to view being a senator as an exercise in political positioning.

After issuing its full-throated endorsement of Warren, the Globe editorial wraps things up with one last swipe at Brown:

Brown has also sacrificed some of his good will with Massachusetts voters by making personal attacks on Warren. After having milked every conceivable benefit out of the news that she identified herself as Native American at points in her teaching career, Brown returned to the theme as a closing argument. He thinks it helps him to portray her, without clear evidence, as an unwarranted beneficiary of affirmative action; it may make him seem like the more relatable figure. But relatable doesn’t cut it if you don’t excel at your job; and by campaigning on his personality, rather than his abilities, Brown seems to be bucking for his own form of affirmative action.

Contrast that with the Boston Herald’s endorsement of Brown last week, which is moderate borderong on perfunctroy.

Brown for Senate

Two years ago few voters outside Wrentham and its environs knew much about Scott Brown beyond the pickup truck, the barn jacket, and his pledge both to stand squarely in the path of Obamacare and to cut an independent path in Washington.

Brown still has the truck and the barn jacket, though the props are less prominent now that he has a voting record to go along with them. And on that score he has kept the promises he made during that special election campaign.

There is every reason to believe Brown will continue to be a voice of fiscal sanity and of bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate. He deserves election to a full term, and the Herald is pleased to endorse his candidacy.

Here’s the only mention of Warren:

Democrats have made much of the fact that, should he win election to a full term, Brown would represent a vote in favor of the current GOP leadership. But Brown at least has a track record of breaking with that same GOP leadership and representing a more moderate voice. We’re less certain that Elizabeth Warren would challenge Harry Reid & Co. on important issues.

Is it just the hardreading staff, or is it that cold day in hell when the Globe is more wild-eyed in its editorial position than the Herald?


Conor’s a Goner

October 26, 2012

The Taylor Swift/Conor Kennedy bustup is of course the Main Dish in both local dailies, but as usual, the ingredients vary.

The Globe’s Namesniks are pretty tentative about the whole thing:

Taylor Swift and Conor Kennedy split?

On the same day Taylor Swift released a video for “Begin Again,” a song about starting over after a bad breakup, word comes that the country singer’s romance with Conor Kennedy is kaput.

Citing an unnamed source close to Swift, Us Weekly reported that the 22-year-old “You Belong to Me” singer and the 18-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy have split.

“They quietly parted ways a while ago,” the friend told the magazine. “It was just a distance thing. No hard feelings. They’re fine.”

That sounds like a Kennedy-industrial complex party line, eh?

No such pussyfooting around from the Track Gals (and Megan!) in the Herald:

Taylor Swift/Conor Kennedy fling hits the rocks

Like so many summer romances that burn hot in July and August, Taylor Swift’s fling with Conor Kennedy cooled once the leaves turned and the Hyannisport sun faded.

It was epic while it lasted — all two months’ worth. They frolicked at the compound, where, according to Ethel Kennedy, Tay Tay, 22, was just like one of the family. In fact, Swift and the Kennedy dowager seemed to have a lot hotter romance than the singer and Ethel’s 18-year-old grandson. (“I love her,” Taylor said. “She’s sensational inside and out,” Ethel said.) . . .

Word is, Conor cooled on the relationship because Tay Tay came on waaaay too strong for the frightened Deerfield Academy junior.

“It kind of freaked him out,” a source told Radar Online.

There – that’s the kind of dish we like served up.  Fresh and steamy.

Herald Dogs Times On Jimmy Savile Row; Globe Just Dodges

October 26, 2012

The Boston Herald has been on the BBC/Jimmy Savile scandal like Brown on Williamson, and today’s edition extends the drumbeat.

Despite gaffe, Times’ Sulzberger gives Thompson vote of confidence

New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who has been acting as interim CEO, offered a vote of confidence for embattled incoming CEO Mark Thompson today, but also made a gaffe on the company’s earnings call that linked him to the late BBC alleged sex predator Jimmy Savile.

“We’re delighted to welcome Mark Thompson,” said Sulzberger, reiterating the former BBC director general’s Nov. 12 start date at the Times.

Then, Sulzberger referred to the alleged pedophile and longtime BBC TV host as “Mark Savile” before correcting himself.

Sulzberger also sent a letter yesterday to Times staffers (who are embroiled in a contract dispute with Times management) that said this in part (via

At the New England Media Group, recently marked its one-year anniversary and continues to make steady progress in growing paid digital subscriptions. The team has implemented a variety of initiatives to increase reader interest and engagement, and to strengthen subscription opportunities. And the August launch of’s new live streaming radio station, RadioBDC, is just the latest of the site’s ongoing efforts to broaden its reach in the market.

I want to address a topic that has been on many people’s minds. You no doubt have read the recent reports of a controversy regarding the BBC’s decision in late 2011 to cancel a news story investigating allegations of sexual abuse and molestation by an on-air BBC talent, Jimmy Savile, who died last year. Mark has provided a detailed account of that matter, and I am satisfied that he played no role in the cancellation of the segment.

Meanwhile, the Times’ kissin’ cousin Boston Globe has played no role in examining its connection to the Mark Thompson rumpus.

Here’s what the hardsearching staff found on the Globe website around 1 am:

Try fewer keywords?

Try more coverage, Globeniks.


Elizabeth Warrin’ Front Pages

October 25, 2012

Page One of the local dailies reflect – wait for it – two different worlds. (Via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages.)



Start with the Globe piece, your standard-issue mash note.

Family long a bedrock for Elizabeth Warren

Early support helped shape views and career

Years before she became a distinguished Harvard Law professor, a nationally recognized consumer activist, and a presidential appointee, Elizabeth Warren was a working mother whose grasp on the first rung of the career ladder was slipping.

She had moved to Texas for her husband’s career and landed her first job teaching law school. But her toddler and 7-year-old had burned through seven child care arrangements in six months. Nobody was happy.

“My Aunt Bee had called me, and I started to cry,” Warren recalled. “And I said, ‘I just can’t do this. I think I’m going to quit.’ ”

Her aunt calmed her down and instructed her to wipe her nose, Warren recalled.

Then Aunt Bee told her, “ ‘Well, Sweetie, I can’t get there tomorrow. But I can be there Thursday,’ ” Warren said. “And she arrived with seven suitcases and a Pekingese and stayed for 15 years.”

The Herald piece, on the other hand, is more like a bash note.

Union bigs cashing in

But they back Warren, slam Brown for supporting the rich

Hub union bosses, including a prominent Democratic lawmaker, are getting six-figure salaries and perks such as SUVs and credit cards while slamming U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Republicans for siding with the rich, federal documents show.

State Rep. Martin Walsh (D-Boston) earned $167,911 in 2011 as secretary/treasurer of the Building and Construction Trades Council, while also taking home his $67,000 legislative salary, according to Labor Department financial records submitted by the union group.

The Building Trades organization also paid for a brand new $38,750 Jeep for Walsh to use, documents show.

“I’m not part of that 1 percent,” Walsh told the Herald.


So, you might be wondering, where’s Scott Brown’s front-pager in the Globe?

Oh, he got that yesterday.

Modeling years gave Scott Brown an early boost

It was approaching midnight inside a throbbing Studio 54, New York City’s nightclub extra ordinaire and nocturnal epicenter of excess in the 1980s. As bartenders naked to the waist filled goblets of champagne, club cofounder Steve Rubell, famous for plucking favored guests from the surging crowd outside, was showing off his latest “pick.”

His name was Scott Brown. But Rubell, who recognized the 22-year-old Massachusetts man, who had recently won Cosmopolitan magazine’s 1982 “America’s Sexiest Man” contest and posed nude for its centerfold, promptly dubbed him “the Cosmo boy.” When Rubell spotted R. Couri Hay, The National Enquirer celebrity columnist and stringer for People magazine, he led Brown toward him, hoping his guest’s sudden renown might garner the club a mention . . .

Which candidate do you think is happier with the Globe right now?


Boston Globe Writes Off Jimmy Savile Row

October 24, 2012

The Transatlantic rumpus over alleged sexual abuse of children by the late BBC television host Jimmy Savile gets double coverage in the New York Times today. First up, this John Burns report on the latest developments in a scandal that’s turning the BBC into a pretzel.

BBC Leader Admits ‘Horror’ as a Sexual Abuse Inquiry Opens

LONDON — As the first of a battery of inquiries into Britain’s burgeoning sexual abuse scandal opened in a parliamentary committee room on Tuesday, lawmakers reacted with stunned incredulity and barely disguised anger as they sought answers to the painful questions being asked in every living room, commuter train and pub in the country.

How could this have happened, over decades, without action to stop it? How could some of the country’s most respected institutions — among them the BBC, the National Health Service, police forces in London and other areas, as well as the national prosecuting authority — have failed to bring the accused principal abuser to book? How could so many vulnerable young girls and boys — more than 200, according to the police — have been exposed to such vileness, for so long,and so blatantly, without anybody stepping in to help them?

The occasion was the opening of hearings by the House of Commons committee on culture, media and sport, and the matter at hand cascading revelations in the past month that have portrayed one of Britain’s most beloved television hosts, Jimmy Savile, who died last year at 84, as an insatiable pedophile, a predator who abused teenagers in children’s homes, in hospitals for the emotionally disturbed, in BBC dressing rooms yards from stage sets where he made himself a national idol.

Also being questioned: Why did the show “BBC Newsnight” kill an investigative report into Savile’s actions?

Here’s what the Times says:

Channel 4 television reported Tuesday that it had seen an e-mail from a BBC reporter, Liz Mackean, in which she said the editor of “BBC Newsnight,” Peter Rippon, who had shelved an investigative report she was working on, had diminished the seriousness of Mr. Savile’s abuse by saying of the victims, “The girls were teenagers, not too young,” and that “they weren’t the worst kind of sexual offenses.”


The second piece in today’s Times – and this is where it gets even more interesting – examines the role of Mark Thompson, former BBC head, future New York Times Co. CEO.

Former BBC Head Says He Had No Role in Squelching Program

Mark Thompson, the former head of the British Broadcasting Corporation who has been drawn into the scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse against the former television personality Jimmy Savile, reiterated in an interview on Tuesday that he was not aware of an investigative report prepared for the BBC program “Newsnight” into Mr. Savile’s behavior until after the investigation was canceled.

Both in the interview and in a letter to Parliament, Mr. Thompson, who is also the incoming chief executive of The New York Times Company, said that he was made aware that “Newsnight” had been investigating Mr. Savile only during a conversation with a reporter at a company holiday party last December.

Thompson’s party line:”There is nothing to suggest that I acted inappropriately in the handling of this matter.” That’s about as good a defense as the Washington Generals put up against the Harlem Globetrotters.

NYT kissin’ cousin Boston Globe runs a perfunctory pickup of the Times report, with no mention of the Thompson mishegosss.

That’s left, as the hardworking staff predicted about 10 hours ago, to the Boston Herald, which features this on page 2:

Is new Times CEO fit for print?

Ex-BBC chief accused of shelving sex abuse expose

The New York Times [NYT]’ public editor is questioning whether incoming Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson “is the right person for the job,” even as a British lawmaker has accused the former BBC director general of changing his story about the spiking of a news report on sex abuse allegations surrounding the late TV personality Jimmy Savile.

“Mark Thompson has already had to correct his version of events once. He originally implied that he knew nothing about the Newsnight investigation, before admitting that a BBC journalist had told him he had reasons to worry about it,” said Rob Wilson, a member of Parliament from Reading East, who has questioned Thompson’s role and whether there was a BBC cover up regarding Savile. “Now it appears he may have known more about the subject of the Newsnight investigation than he has previously admitted.”

The pedophile sex abuse scandal involving the late BBC TV host is the talk of Britain and the timing couldn’t be much worse for the Times, which tapped Thompson in August before the scandal erupted.

Of course, the public editor’s piling on doesn’t help either, especially with the headline “Times Must Aggressively Cover Mark Thompson’s Role in BBC’s Troubles.”

Ditto for the Globe, dontcha think?


Boston Herald Jumps the Snark

October 23, 2012

Say, the Boston Herald didn’t like all that sarcasm Barack Obama threw at Mitt Romney in last night’s debate, did they?

Start with Page One (via the Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages):

Then the columnists got in on the action.

Paging Howie Carr, paging Mr. One-Note Carr.

Once they got beyond the boring foreign policy part of the foreign policy debate, they reverted to form.

Obama was petulant and petty and, of course, he wants higher taxes on “the wealthiest.” He condescendingly lectured Romney on naval matters, and on these new “ships that go underwater … nuclear submarines.”

Next up, Joe Battenfeld:

The president’s snarky one-liners — such as lecturing Romney that “we have these things called aircraft carriers” — may have alienated some voters and will definitely fire up Republicans.

Certainly worked for Boston Globe columnist Farah Stockman:

At his best, [Romney] came off sounding like a diluted version of the president we already have.

By contrast, Obama sounded comfortable with the material. My favorite moment was after Romney brought up his often-repeated line about the US Navy having fewer ships now than it did in 1916, Obama said: “We also have fewer horses and bayonets . . . We have these things called aircraft carriers. Planes land on them.”

So, obviously, do newspaper columnists.