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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-01-28-pm

 

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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-29-46-pm

 

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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-12-48-36-am

 

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

 

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-12-49-58-am

 

(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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-1-47-20-am

 

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

 

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-9-26-24-am

 

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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-12-39-46-am

 

 

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-12-41-49-am

 

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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-12-52-44-am

 

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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-1-18-08-am

 

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.

 

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-12-41-05-am

 

Close-up for the copy-impaired:

 

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-1-37-19-am

 

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.


Cable Network to Boston Herald: FX You

September 27, 2016

From our Late to the After Party desk

As always, this year’s Emmy Awards spawned all kinds of self-congradulatory ads touting the number of wins various networks garnered.

And one of them actually landed in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-1-27-51-am

 

But not, alas, in the Boston Herald.

C’mon, FXniks: Show the thirsty local tabloid some love, eh? ‘Cause they’re certainly feeling The Strain on Fargo (!) $treet.

(As for the Herald’s editorial content, if you were to recommend Anger Management, it would be Justified.)


Chipotle to Boston Herald: Eat Me (Ad-Free Edition)

September 22, 2016

From our Local Dailies DisADvantage desk

Yesterday’s Boston Globe featured this full-page ad from Chipotle, which is desperately seeking eaters after multiple food-borne illness outbreaks.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-36-10-am

 

Whatever.

No such advertisement, however, appeared in yesterday’s spicy local tabloid (although it did run in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal).

Memo to Chipotle’s marketing nudniks:

Boston Herald readers eat crappy food too.

Smarten up, eh?


Boston Globe ‘Reports’ on HUBweek (Sponsor: Globe)

September 20, 2016

From our Walt Whitman desk

The hardreading staff has long whacked around the Boston Herald for celebrating itself and singing itself in so-called news reports. Now it’s time to give the Boston Globe a dope slap.

For starters, here’s what headlined the Globe’s homepage at 12:45 this morning:

 

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-12-47-53-am

 

That’s the residue of this Michael Levenson piece at the top of yesterday’s Globe front page:

HUBweek aims for wider appeal

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-12-53-08-am

There will be a party in the South End with music, art installations, and an unusual tasting competition featuring six beers brewed with water from the Charles River that’s been purified (they promise) by a local company.

There will be intimate seven-person lunches in Kendall Square where anyone can ask a Broad Institute geneticist why science hasn’t cured cancer or delve into the dangers of artificial intelligence with a director of the Harvard Innovation Lab.

And just before the first presidential debate, a prominent philosopher will lead an even more high-minded debate at Faneuil Hall, asking: Is it fair to tax the rich to help the poor? And should rich countries have the right to restrict immigration?

Such are the events — both playful and provocative — that organizers are planning for the slightly revamped second year of HUBweek, a festival devoted to the arts, science, and technology that is aiming to become Boston’s answer to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

 

Reality check: Those four paragraphs feature roughly the same number of plugs as Joe Biden’s head.

It’s not until the sixth graf (on the jump page) that readers learn this:

[O]rganizers are . . .  grappling with how to ensure that the annual festival — which is sponsored by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — does not cater solely to the business and academic elite in downtown Boston, the Seaport, and Cambridge, where most of the events are held.

 

Maybe the Globe should grapple with how to ensure that promotional material is not presented as news. The hardreading staff would be happy to participate in that high-minded debate.

Meanwhile . . . Free the Michael Levenson One! 


Boston Herald (Pot)Head and Shoulders Above Globe

September 16, 2016

We tend to think of the Boston Herald as the town’s stern grandpa, holding everyone to the straight and narrow. While the Herald continues to be narrow, though, it’s not always straight. The tokey local tabloid features this full-page ad from Boston Smoke Shop in today’s edition.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-12-24-40-pm

 

The ad fails to mention where and when the Boston Freedom Rally will occur (Saturday and Sunday on the Boston Common), but that’s weed for you.

Meanwhile, not high but in high dudgeon is the Herald editorial page, which weighs in with this bit of pearl-clutching.

Pot limits in order

Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack is right — Massachusetts needs a reliable test to determine whether a driver is impaired by marijuana. And if Question 4 passes, legalizing the recreational use of pot, the importance of developing such a test will be even more important.

“One of the concerns with marijuana is, it is clear at some point, you are impaired legally, but we don’t have a test like we do for alcohol,” Pollack said on Boston Herald Radio this week.

There is an interim step that Beacon Hill could take — and frankly already should have taken. They could make it illegal to drive while in possession of marijuana, as it is with an open container of alcohol.

 

And remember: It’s against the law to smoke anything on the Common. Not to get technical about it.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, there’s no Boston Smoke Shop ad, but there is this pot headline on Page One: “Colorado serves edible marijuana with a side of controversy.” And brownies you can eat on the Common.