Wait, What? The Boston Herald Now Costs $4.50?

July 1, 2022

From our Déjà Vu All Over Again desk

Two years ago, sharp-eyed commenter Mark notified the hardreading staff that the Boston Herald had jacked up the price of its daily print edition by 40%, from $2.50 to $3.50

Maybe it’s the lack of ads, but did you notice that the newsstand price of The Herald went up to $3.50 last week? $3.50! More than The NY Times, the Globe, and almost as much as the New York Daily News and the New York Post together! Who is going to be so devoted to Howie Carr, yet so undevoted to home delivery or ipad reading, as to pay that much every morning?

Good questions all.

Now – in response to our recent post about the Boston Globe’s knee-buckling decline in its daily circulation to 68,806  – comes Mark’s latest Herald price-hike heads up.

I don’t see the Herald anywhere on this [Top 25 U.S.newspaper circulation] list. This won’t help: their single copy price apparently went up to $4.50 this week. Seriously?

Seriously. Last Sunday the flailing local tabloid cost $4.

One day later, the daily edition went for $4.50.

That makes a certain amount of sense, since the Sunday Herald’s circulation has long lagged behind the daily’s distribution.

But $4.50? For the flimsy local tabloid?

What the hell, right?

For those of you keeping score at home: Boston Globe print edition, $3.50. New York Times print edition, $3.00. Wall Street Journal print edition, $5.00.

Two years ago the Boston Business Journal’s redoubtable Don Seiffert reported this about the flailing local tabloid: “The Herald’s print circulation was just under 30,000 as of the first quarter of 2020, with more than half of that from single-copy sales at newsstands around and outside the city. That’s down 46% from four years earlier.”

And this: “The size of the Boston Herald has gone from about 240 employees at the end of 2017, before its purchase by MediaNews Group, to just a few dozen today.”

Your back-of-the-envelope update goes here.


Boston Herald Shrugs Over Unemployment Clawbacks

March 4, 2022

During the past few months, the flimsy local tabloid has all but ignored U.S. Labor Department efforts to recover about $2.7 billion in overpayments of federal pandemic jobless benefits to Bay State residents.

Here’s the extent of the coverage by the purported champion of the working class, but not so much the out-of-work class.

The Boston Globe, by contrast, has been on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker like Brown on Williamson over the clawbacks. Here’s a graphic recap.

Yesterday’s Globe featured this Larry Edelman piece about the current state of clawback efforts.

The state last week asked the Labor Department for the OK to issue blanket waivers for Massachusetts workers who collected Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and other federal benefits but were subsequently deemed ineligible or to have received too much money. The blanket waivers would eliminate the need for the state Department of Unemployment Assistance to review each case individually.

Some 352,000 individuals have received $2.33 billion in overpayment notices, the DUA said in a report to the Legislature this week. More than three-quarters of that amount is tied to federal benefits, including PUA for the self-employed and gig workers. The state has 29,000 pending waiver requests, including 13,700 tied to federal benefits.

According to Edelman, “about 55,400 people with overpayments of state benefits and 7,800 PUA claimants have either fully or partially repaid the DUA, or are on a repayment plan. Recoveries total $183 million on federal benefits and $39 million in state unemployment.”

Here’s an alternative Pay It Backward story, as our kissin’ cousin at Campaign Outsider recently recounted.

I was involved in a similar clawback in the mid-’70s when I worked at the Social Security Administration as a claims representative in the Supplemental Security Income program.

As I chronicled in The Redemption Unit, a memoir of my misadventures in the SSI trenches, when SSA launched the SSI program in 1974, it took aged, disabled and blind people off the state welfare rolls and put them on the federal dole.  Problem was, it pretty much paid everyone top dollar in their category, so after the transfer was complete, every claimant needed to be “redetermined.”

That’s where I – and a cadre of other recent college grads, civil service exams being the last refuge of the liberal arts major – came into the picture. We did the redetermining. And when that was done, the overpayment notices went out.

I’ll let The Redemption Unit take it from here.

When the last claimant’s benefits had been redetermined and the government added up its losses, it immediately decided to recoup them by initiating the Overpayment Recovery Program. Letters went out – on green paper instead of redetermination red – telling claimants they had to come in to the District Office. And the whole kabuki dance started all over again.

Claimant plunks green letter down on desk.  File comes out. Conversation begins.

“Mrs. Patterson, our records show that you were overpaid during the past two years by a total of $2162.”

“I never got no check for $2162.”

Conversation effectively ends.

In essence the Overpayment Recovery Program took people who’d just had their welfare checks cut, and cut them some more. One day my next-desk neighbor, Tricia McDermott, flipped a file across her desk and leaned back in her chair. Tricia was too compassionate for the job but too strait-laced not to do it by the book. She stared toward the windows and said to no one in particular, “What we need here is an overpayment recovery incentive. Do you think they’d ever consider giving us a cut of the take?”

“In this lifetime?”

“No, really – 10% off the top of any money we recover. We could limit it to refunds and exclude adjustments or returned checks.”

“Uh-huh.”

That there were three different ways to achieve a single result was pure SSA. Back then the Social Security system was virtually all exceptions and no rules . . . SSI wasn’t quite as bad, but it was still a contraption only Rube Goldberg could love. To make matters worse, the claims reps received a steady stream of what were called “claims transmittals” – memos that were supposed to clarify, but more often complicated, SSI’s crazy-quilt regulations.

Representative sample: “Transmit payment status code of WO4, WO5, or WO9. However, because of systems limitations do not input these PSCs. Use force pay to pay correct amount.” (SSIH, 13515-2)

So nobody read the transmittals. Except me. I figured I needed something on the plus side of the ledger to offset being chronically late and generally out of step. Consequently I read every transmittal, which probably was why I got the computer to do things no one else could.

In the course of my reading I also discovered that two obscure SSI regulations, when combined, essentially allowed a claims rep to waive any overpayment.

So that’s what I did.

A claimant would come in, sit down at my desk and wearily hand over his green letter.

“Yes. Mr. Randolph. Our records show – let’s see here – that during the past two years you were overpaid by $846.”

“I never got no check for $846.”

“That’s right, Mr. Randolph. This is really just a bookkeeping thing. I need you to sign a couple of forms and you’ll be all set.”

I had decided to hand-write the two forms each time; if I had a stack of copies around, they might accuse me of premeditated overpayment waiving. Better to have a sort of eureka element involved. I’d scribble out the forms, turn them toward the claimant, and spend a good five minutes convincing him to sign them. The claimant would walk away looking slightly puzzled. Then someone else would come to my desk with a green letter.

For a while my waive-‘em-all policy stayed under the radar. But I ran into problems when people began asking for me by name. Apparently word had gotten around the claimant community that I was the guy to see with your overpayment letter. So they would come into the DO and – completely disregarding SSI’s sophisticated system of assigning claimants alphabetically – say they wanted to be interviewed by me. Suddenly I was very much on the radar screen.

It got crazy bureaucratic from there. If you’re a glutton for punishment, the climactic conclusion is here.

Climactic conclusion of the Bay State’s clawback TBD.


Boston Herald Outsources Its Gardner Heist Coverage

March 1, 2022

The hardreading staff was captivated – as no doubt you splendid readers were – by the latest Gardner-Museum-Chasing-Its-Ghosts tale that played out in the local dailies yesterday.

Let’s start with the redoubtable Shelley Murphy’s Page One piece in the Boston Globe.

Investigators suspect a link between the Gardner Museum heist and an execution-style murder in Lynn

On a February night in 1991, James Marks had just returned from Maine and was unlocking the door to his Lynn home when a gunman crept up behind him and opened fire, killing him with two blasts from a shotgun, according to police.

The killer fled on foot, leaving a few footprints, but the case remains unsolved, although a mob associate who died years ago has been implicated.

Some authorities now say they suspect there may be a link between the execution-style murder of Marks — a hustler and convicted bank robber — and one of Boston’s most famous unsolved crimes: the 1990 theft of masterpieces valued at more than $500 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

(That’s “Anthony Amore, the security director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum . . . reflected in the empty frame that held the painting ‘The Concert’ by Vermeer,” for those of you keeping score at home.)

Crosstown at the Boston Herald – actually it’s no longer crosstown since the Globe barely occupies its stately State Street headquarters and the Herald newsroom is couch-surfing at the Lowell Sun – the new Gardner revelation was also a big story.

 

 

Except check out the byline.

That comes as no surprise given this post we published a few months ago.

Boston Herald Publisher Moonlights at Hartford Daily

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 . . .

Meanwhile, the flimsy local tabloid’s Incredible Shrinking Newsroom is bidding adieu to Erin Tiernan, who has blissfully decamped to MassLive.

Here’s guessing the filching local tabloid will feature plenty more out-of-town bylines in the days and weeks ahead.


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.


Mike Bloomberg Even Has Ads in the Boston Herald

February 9, 2020

The chattering classes have no idea how far Mike Bloomberg’s staggering 300-million-going-on-one billion-dollar ad campaign extends.

Here’s conservative hall monitor Rich Lowry in yesterday’s Boston Herald op-ed page.

The level of his spending is truly astonishing — Croesus goes all-in on Super Tuesday. He’s spent more than $300 million on various forms of advertising. By the end, he’s going to make the profligate self-funder Tom Steyer — who managed to pointlessly buy himself onto the Democratic debate stage — look like a penny-pincher.

Bloomberg is running a presidential campaign that Curtis LeMay would love, carpet-bombing the airwaves every single day. He’s single-handedly changed the market for TV ads in many places. He spent $10 million on a Super Bowl spot, or about half of what Joe Biden raised in the entire fourth quarter.

 

And here’s what appears right below that on the Herald’s website.

 

 

Megabucks Mike is also running ads in the Herald’s E-Edition. This is what we got when we double-clicked for the text version of a Sinn Fein piece.

 

 

Most analysts – Lowry included – have focused on Bloomberg’s TV buys. But when a campaign is peppering the likes of the flimsy local tabloid with ads, it’s way beyond carpet-bombing.

Mike Bloomberg has gone nuclear.


Turn the Boston Herald Sideways, It Sorta Disappears

January 16, 2020

Since Digital Worst – sorry, First – Media bought it in 2018, the Boston Herald has been, to borrow a phrase from the great Raymond Chandler, thin as the gold on a weekend wedding ring, officially making the Herald the flimsy local tabloid.

And getting flimsier all the time.

Take yesterday’s edition: Of the paper’s 48 pages, four-and-a-half were given over to house ads such as this one.

 

 

Something under two pages were occupied by display – that is to say, paid – ads.

That’s non-business-as-usual for the fading local tabloid, which is suffering  knee-buckling decreases in both circulation and ad revenue.

As the redoubtable Don Seiffert noted in the Boston Business Journal last month, “[a]s of September 2014, the Herald had weekday print circulation of 60,960. As of this past September — six years later — that number was down to 33,337. Over the past year, the Herald’s weekday print circulation fell 16 percent.”

The paper’s Sunday circulation is even lower than its weekday readership, a distinction few metro dailies can claim.

Bottom line: The Boston Herald is disappearing in slow motion right before our eyes.

No wonder the hardreading staff has kissin’ cousins at It’s Sad to Live in a One-Daily Town.

And it will be, whatever you might think of the dodgy local tabloid.


Herald’s Boston/LA Byline Bakeoff a Big Baseball Bust

October 25, 2018

Taking a cue from the Boston Globe’s Home/Away feature that matches up Globe columnist Christopher Gasper with a columnist from the hometown paper of that week’s Patriots opponent, the Boston Herald ran this on page 2 of Tuesday’s edition.

Good idea, if derivative. Tuesday’s columns were a compare ‘n’ contrast of the respective ballyards of the World’s Serious rivals, with Fenway holding the obvious edge.

But then yesterday Alexander wrote about the Bruins-Kings NHL rivalry, and Pelletier nattered on about Bobby Orr vs. Wayne Gretzky, which seemed more than odd to the headscratching staff.

And today?

 

 

 

Seriously? That’s just idiotic.

Of course, the columnists can’t write about what they should be – namely, last night’s baseball game – because the flimsy local tabloid is printed in East Jesus, Rhode Island around dinnertime the night before.

We’ll say it again.

Boston Herald Subscription: Biggest. Waste.Ever.


NESN Has NUSN for the Boston Herald

April 10, 2016

Well tomorrow is the Red Sox home opener and, say, there’s rejoicing throughout the land – including in today’s Boston Globe Sports section, which features this full-page ad.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.40.12 PM

 

You know what comes next: The ad did not run in today’s Boston Herald, sports section or otherwise.

Well, you might say, that’s because the flimsy local tabloid has managed the improbable feat of having a circulation that’s smaller on Sunday than on weekdays. The Herald claims 96,403 daily and 75,405 Sunday circulation, but here’s what the Herald published last fall:

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 5.00.35 PM

 

Note the Total Paid Distribution: 60,212. And that was on a Friday.

So let’s use the Herald’s own ratio and estimate Sunday circulation around 50,000. That should make a Sunday ad in the Herald less expensive, not less likely.

But apparently NESN has all the viewers it needs.

So nothing for the thirsty local tabloid.

That’s just sad, with a capital A-D.