Two-Daily Town Goes All Digital (And Slightly Mental)

May 23, 2019

For more than two decades the hardreading staff has proudly been one of the 17 home subscribers to the Boston Herald.

But the plopping of four daily newspapers on our doorstep every morning (Boston Herald, Boston Globe, New York Times, Wall Street Journal) has become too much to bear in this, our dotage. So we decided to pare down our print publications.

Ave atque vale, Globe and Herald print editions.

But, of course, it wasn’t that easy.

The Herald, feistily, told us that we’d have to wait for a month to convert our print subscription to a digital-only one – a sort of tabloid quarantine that seems totally self-defeating.

The Globe, on the other hand, welcomed our shift from print to digital, as it has with many others according to this piece from the estimable Don Seiffert in the Boston Business Journal,

The Boston Globe now has more online subscribers than print ones

The Boston Globe reached a milestone earlier this year when the number of its digital subscribers surpassed that of its weekday print subscribers for the first time — likely the only traditional, regional daily in the U.S. to have done so.

Filings the Globe submitted in the past week to the Alliance for Audited Media show that the inflection point occurred sometime in the first three months of the year. During that time, the number of weekday print subscribers fell from 108,719 to 98,978, an 11 percent decline year-over-year. That’s about on par with industry-wide rates of decline.

During the same time, the filing indicates that digital subscriptions — as measured by a category called “restricted digital access”— went from 107,902 to 112,241 as of March 31. While the Globe doesn’t specify exactly how it counts the number of online subscribers, restricted digital access seems to be a good approximation, and the paper’s director of consumer revenue, Tom Brown, confirmed this week that its number of online subscribers now stands at 112,700.

 

Handy circulation chart:

Except the BBJ piece kind of glossed over the economics of the Globe subscription shift.

Let’s take the hardreading staff, for example. Previously, we paid about $850 a year (!) for our Globe print subscription (digital access included). That’s roughly eight times what we pay for the Times or the Journal, and twice what we now pay for the Globe’s Sunday print edition and digital access.

Two-Daily Town Calculator (pat. pending):

For every lost print subscriber and gained digital subscriber, the Boston Globe loses roughly $400 per annum. Not to mention, according the the BBJ report, the Globe this past year lost 10,000 print subscribers and gained 5,000 digital ones.

Totally not sure how that makes the Boston Globe more financially viable.

But, as the big time reporters say, time will tell.

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Boston Globe Go-bituaries Now a Subsidiary of NYT

February 10, 2019

Three months ago the Boston Business Journal’s Don Seiffert reported (pay wall) that the Boston Globe had offloaded more staff and outsourced more content.

Boston Globe to lay off 15, outsource death notices

The latest round of layoffs at the newspaper includes 10 longtime employees in the classified department, and plans to outsource the “Remembered” business that prints death notices.

 

Then again, by the look of the Globe’s obituary pages nowadays, you’d think that they’ve been outsourced as well.

Start with Friday’s edition, which featured six obits across two pages – five of them from the New York Times, one from the Associated Press.

 

 

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, you’d expect the Globe to pick up Christine Kay, editor on prizewinning Times projects, dies at 54 from the Times. Ditto for John Dingell Jr., a House ‘bull’ who served the longest, dies at 92.

But also a Times obit for Frank Robinson?

Seriously?

It’s true that Globe death beat reporter Bryan Marquard has had his hands full lately with the passing of legendary WBZ-AM anchorman Gary LaPierre and longtime Globe editor John S. Driscoll. But nobody in the Sports department could compose a sendoff to Robinson, Hall of Fame slugger and baseball’s first black manager? Geez.

Next up: yesterday’s edition of the Globe, which featured five obits – four from the Times (including Albert Finney), one from the Washington Post. Again, no one from the Arts squad had an obit prepared for the 82-year-old British stage and film actor? Double geez.

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, Dan Shaughnessy penned a nice tribute to Robinson in his picked-up pieces column today. Don’t hold your breath for something similar on Finney.

Today’s Globituaries run true to form – four from the Times, two from AP.

 

 

(To be clear graf goes here)

To be clear, it’s no surprise that even a major metropolitan daily would pull most of its obits from the wire services. In the case of the Globe, however, it’s yet another symptom of the slow-motion decline of a once-robust newspaper.

Maybe not newsworthy, but certainly noteworthy.


Pinheads at Boston Globe Strip-Mine Comics Pages

December 24, 2018

Are we having none yet?

The powers that be at the Boston Globe have continued their assault on the comics pages, as this note in today’s edition indicates.

Before:

 

After:

Let’s call the roll of the “several” strips that have been dumped. First, the good ones: Zippy (second time the Globe Pinheads have dropped him), Get Fuzzy, Mother Goose & Grimm, Bizarro, Bliss.

Then the no-great-loss ones – Rose Is Rose, Jumpstart, Pooch Cafe, Adam @ Home, Dustin, Mr. Boffo.

That would be 11 dropped comics if you’re keeping score at home.

Worse yet, consider some of the dogs they’ve kept: Red & Rover, Zits, Arctic Circle, The Pajama Diaries, For Better Or For Worse, Curtis, Arlo & Janis – all mind-numbingly either a) stupid, or b) unfunny.

Of course, the stately local broadsheet doesn’t care what old fogeys like the hardreading staff think. It’s too busy chasing the millennial crowd that it will likely never get.

But as Don Seiffert reported last week at the Boston Business Journal, “[a]s of Sept. 30, the paper had 109,409 weekday subscribers and 190,787 Sunday-only subscribers — down year-over-year by 11 percent and 13 percent respectively.”

And that, of course, is no joke.


Boston Globe Is Now the Dollar Store of Dailies

November 22, 2018

Recipients of the latest Boston Globe Weekender newsletter were greeted with this cheery offering from local scribe Michael Andor Brodeur.

From now through what is still for some reason called “Cyber Monday,” Weekenders can score a one-year subscription to the Globe online for just a buck a week for a year. I just did the math on that and it comes out to just $52, which is objectively less than other prices (including the usual $360).

 

Stop the presses!

On second thought, don’t. For several years now the Globeniks have staked their future on expanded digital revenues, as the redoubtable Dan Kennedy noted last month in Media Nation.

[T]he paper is reporting that it has passed the 100,000 level for digital-only subscriptions, a benchmark the paper’s executives had originally hoped to reach by the end of June. Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal has the details.

When I interviewed Globe editor Brian McGrory for “The Return of the Moguls” nearly two years ago, he said the paper would start to look like a sustainable business if it could hit 200,000.

 

Not to be the skunk at the garden party, but given that 1) the Globe introduced its paywall in 2011, and 2) it’s taken seven years to get to 100,000 digital-only subscribers, the question remains: Will Globe owner John Henry have the patience to wait until 2025 for the paper “to look like a sustainable business”?

As the BBJ’s Seiffert noted:

[G]etting to the second 100,000 subscriptions will be a heavy lift for a paper like the Globe that’s bound by geography. Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, said in an email interview a couple weeks ago regarding the Globe’s digital progress that “as with print circulation, (digital) growth can be hard to sustain.”

“It takes marketing, a steady effort to convert people to fully paid, keeping renewal rates up and replacing churned subs with new ones at the discounted price,” said Edmonds. “If times are tight and (Globe owner) John Henry is impatient with losses as he has said — I can see the budget for all of that being cut back.”

 

Maybe even cut back to a dollar a week.


Boston Sunday Globe’s – Gasp! – Circulation Increase

October 9, 2018

So the hardreading staff was working its way through the Sunday papers when we came upon this notice on page 2 of the Boston Globe’s Ideas section.

 

 

One number that caught our eye was the Boston Sunday Globe print circulation increase from an average of 201,358 last year to 213,557 last month.

 

 

Next item of interest: The Globe’s paid digital subscriptions, which have risen to 111,680 according to this filing.

 

 

Problem is, Globe editor Brian McGrory has repeatedly stated that the paper needs to corral 200,000 digital subscribers to ensure its financial sustainability.

So half a loaf doesn’t quite make it, no?

Crosstown at the Boston Herald, on the other hand, the circulation news is downright dismal, as the Boston Business Journal’s Don Seiffert recently noted.

Boston Herald print circulation sees biggest drop in three years

The Boston Herald’s weekday print circulation saw a bigger drop in the first three months of 2018 compared to the previous quarter than it’s seen anytime in at least the past three years.

The newspaper’s weekday average print circulation fell to 40,914 during the first quarter of 2018, according to a report the Herald filed this week with the Alliance for Audited Media.

That’s a drop in circulation of nearly 3,200 subscribers — about 7.2 percent — from the fourth quarter of 2017. It marks the largest three-month decline in the paper’s weekday print circulation since at least 2015.

 

See our kissin’ cousins at One-Daily Town for further gory details.


John Henry Held Hostage by Boston Herald, Day One

December 14, 2017

From our Hark! The Herald! desk

It’s always entertaining – and sometimes enlightening – when the Boston Herald covers itself, and this story in today’s edition is no exception.

Judge approves Herald to continue business as usual

The Herald’s lights will stay on and it can pay most of its bills during the bankruptcy process, a Delaware judge ruled, as the newspaper enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy eyeing a late February sale to GateHouse Media.

Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein yesterday gave interim approval for business at the Herald to continue mostly as usual, including paying for utilities, payroll and insurance policies, as lawyers piece through the newspaper’s bankruptcy filing and GateHouse’s $4.5 million offer.

 

But not to pay the selfie local tabloid’s printer. “Herald bankruptcy attorney Bill Baldiga said the judge delayed approving payments to The Boston Globe for amounts owed for printing, delivery, inserts and paper returns, given uncertainty about the totals.”

What’s absolutely certain, though, is that the Herald owes the Globe “an estimated $600,000,” according to the former’s bankruptcy filing reproduced in the Boston Business Journal.

So it might not be a coincidence that Globe publisher John Henry wrote this mash note atop today’s editorial page.

Pat Purcell’s service to Boston

Patrick J. Purcell, longtime owner and publisher of the Boston Herald, is someone who has spent most of his adult life tending to the most essential task of our democracy: leading civic conversations in Boston that are sometimes contentious but are invariably important. While his efforts on behalf of journalism for the city are very well known, the personal impact he has had on so many over decades isn’t as familiar.

Our city knows Purcell as the driven media executive who bought the Herald from Rupert Murdoch in 1994. But he’s also unfailingly described as a loyal friend and devoted family man, who landed here after a colorful career in New York and became a Bostonian to his core.

 

Of course, Henry wouldn’t be so crass as to include an invoice in the editorial, although he did mention the Globe’s printing facility:

“I was giving Pat a tour of the Globe’s new print facility in Taunton about a year ago and as we walked through, people would seek him out just to shake his hand and thank him for things he had quietly done for them personally, or for something he had done to help a family member or associate.”

Guilt . . . guilt . . . guilt . . .

The bankruptcy court will address payments to the Globe on January 4. We’ll see if Henry’s still feeling this collegial after that.


GE Brings No Things (or Ads) to Life at Boston Herald

July 5, 2016

From our bottomless Local Dailies DisADvantage desk

As the hardreading staff has noted, when General Electric decided to move its corporate headquarters to Boston last April, GE celebrated its migration with this full-page ad in the Boston Globe.

 

screen-shot-2016-04-04-at-12-27-07-pm

 

But, as we also noted, GE ignored the Boston Herald.

The [ad’s] small type: “GE and Boston are the perfect combination to usher in a new digital industrial revolution. We’re proud to call the city that never stops making history our new home.”

But, apparently, not proud enough to run its ad in the Boston Herald.

Hey, GEniks: You’re moving to a two-daily town. Show the thirsty local tabloid some love, eh?

 

Since then GE – totally ignoring us – has run a series of full-page ads in the Globe but not the Herald, such as this one in May:

 

screen-shot-2016-05-04-at-12-47-59-am

 

And, in yesterday’s Globe, yet another full-page suck-up.

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.18.31 AM

 

We’ll say it again:

Hey, GEniks: You’re moving to a two-daily town. Show the thirsty local tabloid some love, eh?