Boston Globe $hilling Again for Children’s Hospital

October 18, 2016

This is getting really flagrant.

As the hardreading staff has noted multiple times, the Boston Globe has put on a full-court press over the past week promoting the proposed expansion of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Last week it was an op-ed piece from former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer urging state officials to get off their duffs and approve the expansion, already. Problem was, the Globe failed to mention that Widmer sits on the hospital’s Board Committee for Community Service.

On Sunday, this Globe editorial urged the state’s Public Health Council to approve the project.

Now today comes this op-ed by Jack Connors Jr., chairman emeritus of Partners HealthCare. The piece ends this way:

Hospitals around New England and beyond are referring their most challenging pediatric cases to the talented professionals at Boston Children’s Hospital. These clinicians have dedicated their lives to caring for children with the most complex medical needs. We need to come together and give them our support. We need to let them prepare for a better future for our children and grandchildren. There are so many families who rely on Boston Children’s today — and will rely on it in the future — who will be eternally grateful.

 

So, that’s three pro, no con for those of you keeping score at home.

As the Globe has been stacking the deck editorially, Children’s has been running full-page ads in the paper also touting the expansion. Here is today’s ad-ition:

 

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At this point, the only balance the Globe seems concerned with is its checking account balance.

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Boston Globe Still Shilling for Children’s Hospital

October 17, 2016

At this point, it’s hard not to think that the Boston Globe is so far in the tank for the proposed Children’s Hospital expansion, they should be wearing scuba gear on Morrissey Boulevard.

As the hardreading staff noted last week, the Globe ran this op-ed piece by former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer on Wednesday. Widmer argued that there’s been too much shilly-shallying over approving the expansion and that state agencies should step aside and let Children’s get on with it.

What did not get mentioned in the op-ed piece is that Michael Widmer sits on the hospital’s Board Committee for Community Service.

Making things look even worse, this full-page ad also ran in last Wednesday’s Globe.

 

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Sure looks like the left hand does know what the right hand is doing. (Another full-page Children’s ad ran last Friday.)

And then came this editorial in yesterday’s Globe.

A yes for Children’s Hospital project

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A STATE PANEL’S upcoming vote on a $1 billion building project proposed by Boston Children’s Hospital comes down to this: Will allowing one of the nation’s most prestigious pediatric care centers to become bigger also drive up medical spending statewide and cause irreparable harm to Children’s competitors? The short answer: It doesn’t have to. Concerns about the project’s ripple effects are legitimate, but they don’t outweigh the need to upgrade a hospital that provides life-saving care to thousands of children from Massachusetts and around the world.

 

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, it’s quite possible that everyone at the Globe is just swimming in their own lane and there’s no concerted effort to boost the fortunes of a deep-pockets advertiser. (We count at least six full-page ads over the past seven months.)

But when the paper won’t even properly identify a Children’s board member using the Globe’s op-ed page to flack for the hospital, you really start to wonder.


Boston Globe Still in the Tank for Children’s Hospital

October 14, 2016

Apparently, the Boston Globe is willing to carry water for Boston’s Children’s Hospital like Gunga Din in the ongoing dispute over the medical center’s expansion plan.

As the hardreading staff noted the other day, the Globe ran this op-ed piece by former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer in Wednesday’s edition.

Watchdog overreaches on Children’s Hospital expansion

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ONE OF the iron laws of public policy is that regulatory agencies have an irresistible tendency to push the limits of their power and authority. Whether it’s the environment, transportation, or health care, the agency seems compelled to prove the purpose of its existence by reaching ever further into the regulatory arena.

We saw a classic example of that recently when the Health Policy Commission inserted itself into Boston Children’s Hospital’s determination of need application to upgrade its facilities. This is the first time that the HPC has chosen to comment on a determination of need application, and it did it 10 months after the hospital first submitted its application to the Department of Public Health, which had launched an extensive public process with widespread commentary and analysis.

 

Widmer also wrote that “the Health Policy Commission should never have inserted itself into the process in the first place.”

What we wrote was that Widmer shouldn’t have been inserted into the Globe op-ed page without the paper noting that he serves on the Children’s Hospital Board Committee for Community Service.

Coincidentally (or not), Wednesday’s Globe also featured this full-page ad.

 

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Conflict of interest, right?

Calls for full disclosure, right?

No such thing from the Globe.

So we sent this email to Globe editorial page editor Ellen Clegg:

Hi, Ellen,

[We] just published this post on Two-Daily Town.

http://bit.ly/2dXG7ZD

[We] would welcome the opportunity to post your response.

Sincerely,
[The Hardreading Staff]

 

So far . . . nothing.

No response from Ms. Clegg. No editor’s note about Widmer in the Globe. No nothing.

Except . . .

Another full-page ad in today’s Globe.

 

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(Children’s is so desperate to burnish its image, the hospital even ran the ad in today’s Boston Herald.)

To recap: The Boston Globe ran an op-ed piece from a Children’s Hospital Board member (without identifying him as such) that promoted the hospital’s controversial expansion plan on the same day the paper ran a lucrative full-page ad promoting the hospital’s controversial expansion plan.

And then ran another lucrative ad.

That’s not journalism. That’s full-service marketing.

Globe editors should know better. Globe readers deserve better.


Conflict of Interest on Boston Globe’s Op-Ed Page?

October 12, 2016

Former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer has this op-ed piece in today’s Boston Globe.

Watchdog overreaches on Children’s expansion

bch-bridge-renderings-1a

ONE OF the iron laws of public policy is that regulatory agencies have an irresistible tendency to push the limits of their power and authority. Whether it’s the environment, transportation, or health care, the agency seems compelled to prove the purpose of its existence by reaching ever further into the regulatory arena.

We saw a classic example of that recently when the Health Policy Commission inserted itself into Boston Children’s Hospital’s determination of need application to upgrade its facilities. This is the first time that the HPC has chosen to comment on a determination of need application, and it did it 10 months after the hospital first submitted its application to the Department of Public Health, which had launched an extensive public process with widespread commentary and analysis.

 

Widmer further states that “the Health Policy Commission should never have inserted itself into the process in the first place.”

But others say the Globe should never have inserted Widmer into the op-ed page – at least not without full disclosure.

An opponent of the Children’s expansion sent us this:

[Widmer] chastised the Health Policy Commission for scrutinizing the largest hospital expansion proposal in state history. HPC is supposed to help control health care costs in the Commonwealth, so of course it would raise objections to this unnecessary proposal. Then, Widmer did not disclose his own role with the hospital. The Globe should be more careful, and the hospital should be more honest.

 

Widmer’s role with Children’s? He’s listed on the hospital’s website as a member of its Board Committee for Community Service.

 

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In addition, there’s this comment attached to the web version of Widmer’s op-ed:

Mike Widmer is on the Board of Children’s Hospital. Printing this column is wrong. Given the Globe’s revenue struggles, it could have charged Children’s for ad space here.

Either very sloppy, or a serious breach of ethics by both the Globe and Widmer– or maybe both.

 

We’ve sent an email to Editorial Page Editor Ellen Clegg asking for a response. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: As the irrepressible Alex Beam notes, I failed to mention the Children’s ad on page 3 of today’s Globe.

 

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Well, that closes the circle, eh?


Boston Globe’s Blink of ‘The Eye’ in a ‘Metro Minute’

October 11, 2016

Perhaps the hardreading staff hasn’t been looking hard enough, but yesterday was the first time we noticed this particular slug in the Boston Globe.

 

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THE EYE is described thusly at the end of the Globe piece:

 

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(NECIR’s The Eye site is here; the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation site is here.)

Regardless of the acuity of our EYEsight, it’s clear the Globe is in full spaghetti-test mode, as evidenced by this email we received the other day.

 

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Lo and behold, The Metro Minute arrived in today’s paper.

 

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Of course, if not enough readers have time for the new feature, you can bet the Globe’s “quicker, more offbeat take” will be gone in a Metro Minute.

Just like Crux, or the stand-alone Capital section, or BetaBoston, or . . .

Whatever comes next As the Globe Turns (More Desperate).

On a newsstand near you.


John Henry to Boston Herald: Drop Dead

October 3, 2016

Sure, David Ortiz’s Fenway Swan Song turned out to be (Not So) Sweet Caroline as the Sox lost five of their last six, but at least Big Papi got a sweet sendoff in the local dailies.

Sunday’s papers were a Papipalooza of congratulatory ads, with both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald publishing special Commemorative Sections.

Their front pages gave you a good idea of who was going to win the advertising sweepstakes in the Farewell to Big Arms.

 

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Notice that the Globe section is sponsored by Xfinity, while the Herald section is sponsored by nobody.

And notice the advertisers in the thirsty local tabloid: Catholic Memorial High School, Aria Trattoria, Sullivan Tire, Central Auto Team, Parker Professional Driving School, Modell’s Sporting Goods, and – our personal favorite – The Hamilton Collection.

 

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Nothing like a Laser-Etched Glass Sculpture to keep the the memories alive.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, there was a different class of commemorative ads: New Balance, Mohegan Sun, University of Massachusetts, and – remarkably – the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

 

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Not to mention ads from Herb Chambers, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sleepy’s, Miltons, Granite City, and, of course, Xfinity.

No surprise there: That high/low advertising split runs pretty much true to form for the local dailies.

But here’s where it gets interesting:

Boston GlobeSox owner John Henry ran this ad in Sunday’s Globe Sports section.

 

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Close-up for the copy-impaired:

 

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The thing is, Henry did not run the same ad in the Herald, even though that would have been the right (and inexpensive) thing to do.

Bad form, Mr. GlobeSox. Bad form.