Pas de D’oh! Boston Dailies Skip Local Ballet Scandal

August 2, 2021

Saturday’s New York Times featured a pretty explosive story by reporter Julia Jacobs about a former Boston Ballet principal dancer and her husband.

Mitchell Taylor Button was accused of abuse, and his wife, Dusty Button, a dancer with a large Instagram following, was accused of participating in some of it but not named as a defendant.

A pair of professional dancers filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing a former dance teacher of sexually assaulting and abusing them, and accusing his wife — an internet-famous ballerina who has danced with the Boston Ballet — of participating in some of that abuse.

The former teacher — who has been known by several names, but is called Mitchell Taylor Button in the suit — is married to Dusty Button, who was a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet and who has amassed more than 300,000 Instagram followers and several corporate sponsorships with viral photos and videos of her dancing.

Locally, WBUR’s Amelia Mason also had the story over the weekend.

One of the plaintiffs, Sage Humphries, is currently a dancer with the Boston Ballet. In 2017, she was a member of Boston Ballet II, the company’s apprenticeship program. The suit says that Dusty Button, then a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet, lured Humphries into an increasingly abusive and controlling relationship with herself and her husband. According to the suit, Mitchell Taylor Button sexually assaulted Humphries on a regular basis over the course of some months and performed violent sex acts on her without her consent. It says that on several occasions, Dusty Button held Humphries down while her husband sexually assaulted the young dancer. The lawsuit also accuses Mitchell Taylor Button of verbal and physical abuse.

The Boston Ballet has released this statement in support of Sara Humphries.

Who we haven’t heard from (just before 6 pm on Monday) are the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Talk about being a step behind . . .


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.


Only Boston Herald Readers Buy Black Market Cigs?

July 15, 2021

Last month Philip Morris International launched an advertising campaign to spotlight, and obviously decry, illicit trafficking of cigarettes. The campaign also mentions other counterfeit goods – cell phones, laptop batteries, Marilyn Monroe-abilia –  just to make it seem a bit less self-serving.

PMI press release:

Philip Morris International Launches New Campaign to Combat Black Market Trade

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) today launched a public education initiative entitled United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) to combat black market trade. Supported by a coalition of national and state private and public sector partners, the campaign will provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers.

The campaign will run through 2021 in eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The PR flack forgot, however, to mention Massachusetts; PMI’s campaign came to the Bay State yesterday via this full-page Boston Herald ad. (The campaign’s website also omits Massachusetts.)

Here’s the text.

Interestingly, the hardreading staff looked in vain for the ad in the Boston Globe – both yesterday and today. What to make of that? Are we to infer that the readers of the stately local broadsheet are unconcerned about the trafficking in illicit goods? Or that they’re too posh to stoop to black market cigarettes, unlike their counterparts at the sneaky local tabloid.

Your conclusion goes here.


Labor Unions Blast Boston Globe in Boston Globe Ad

June 4, 2021

Contract negotiations between Boston GlobeSox owners John/Linda Henry and the Boston Newspaper Guild (the employee union for The Boston Globe) have been limping along for two-plus years, thanks in no small part to the hardball tactics employed by law firm Jones Day, which is to unions what bowling balls are to tenpins.

As a result, three local unions – the Greater Boston Labor Council, the Greater Boston Building Trade Unions, and the Communication Workers of America – joined forces to run this full-page ad in yesterday’s edition of the $tately local broadsheet.

 

 

Those who venture to DearGlobeReaders.org find this right off the top.

 

 

The website also features press releases about the paper’s proposed outsourcing and elimination of “just cause” protections against arbitrary firings or suspensions. In addition, there’s this accusation: “Behind closed doors, subscriber money is being squandered on attacks against the journalists who bring you the news each day, as many of us put our own safety on the line to do so.”

Those personal stories are reflected in the Boston Newspaper Guild’s Twitter feed as well.

 

 

Sorry to be the skunk at the garden party for the umpteenth time, but if past is prologue, this protest is destined to go pretty much nowhere. None of the NewsGuild’s previous efforts to generate public pressure on the Globe seem to have moved the needle at all.

We’re a long way from the days when average Americans got exercised over the corporate looting of local newspapers the way the good citizens of Atlanta did in the 1980s, which was chronicled in the documentary Fear and Favor in the Newsroom.

When muckraking Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor Bill Kovach resigned in 1988 over “irreconcilable differences” with the management of the Cox media chain, several hundred readers and employees of the AJC draped themselves in black and marched to the paper’s headquarters, where they deposited a newsprint-stuffed coffin labeled “Here lies the truth.”

 

 

But here lies the new truth: That is something you will likely never see in Boston. Or much of anywhere else in the U.S. for that matter. It really is a shame.


The Fur Flies in Opposite Directions at Boston Dailies

May 17, 2021

The professional provocateurs at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals took out a full-page ad in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe accusing researchers at UMass-Amherst of animal abuse.

 

 

According to PETA’s website, Taxpayer-Funded Lab Torments Imprisoned Monkeys, Drives Them Mad.

The University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass) tried to keep you from seeing this video. PETA sued, and we won. But before we even got the footage, the experimenter retired!

Now you can see what the school was trying to hide: Experimenters at four National Primate Research CentersOregon National Primate Research Center, Southwest National Primate Research Center, Washington National Primate Research Center, and the now-shuttered New England National Primate Research Center—were paid for two decades to study how being caged in laboratories affects monkeys. Our government dumped tens of millions of dollars into these atrocities—and has never even acted on what it learned.

This dustup has been going on for like forever.

Crosstown at the Boston Herald (not really – neither local daily actually resides in Boston right now), the fur was more filing than flying in this half-page ad.

 

 

Not to be mean but, c’mon – how many of the 22,000 surviving daily Herald readers do you think actually own fur coats? Then again, that package deal looks pretty good, no?


Boston Globe Looks for Subscribers . . . in the Herald

April 9, 2021

Well the hardreading staff was clicking through the Boston Herald’s E-Edition at our usual brisk pace when what should we come across but this.

 

 

Wait, what? The stately local broadsheet has taken to the feisty local tabloid to goose its circulation?

Get. Out.

The Globe’s virtual slumming comes at an interesting crisscross(road) for the paper, as illustrated by this graph from the Boston Business Journal.

As the BBJ’s crack managing editor Don Seiffert wrote last winter, it’s always smart to follow the money.

The Globe’s digital circulation has been the envy of regional daily newspapers nationwide in the past couple of years. It was one of the first papers in the nation to have more online subscribers than print ones last year.

The Globe has also raised its print prices to as much as $1,300 a year for some weekday subscribers, which may have accelerated the switch from print to digital. Some have even speculated that forcing readers to switch to online-only, thereby saving the business money, may be an intentional strategy.

Here’s a question, though: How does it make sense to trade a (potentially) $1300 a year print subscriber for a $360 a year digital subscriber? Not to mention, those departing print subscribers mean reduced print ad revenue as well.

Asking for a friend.

Meanwhile, the redoubtable Dan Kennedy at Media Nation provided this update on the Globe’s Fall 2020 circulation numbers, which included roughly 220,000 digital-only subscribers.

Paid print Friday circulation was down to 81,579 as of early September, lower than the 12-month average by about 1,500. A similar slide was reported in the publisher’s statement that appeared on Sunday: print circulation was 139,307 as of Sept. 6, down nearly 10,000 from the 12-month average.

But, Kennedy also notes, “Like many papers, the Globe has been signing up new subscribers at a steep discount. The challenge will be holding onto them once they are asked to re-up at the full rate of $30 a month.”

Which, as best we can tell, is the highest digital subscription rate – by far – of any major metro newspaper in the country.

That’s a whole nother challenge.

Meanwhile, the thirsty local tabloid is downright parched these days, as the BBJ’s Don Seiffert noted several months ago.

The Herald, owned by Denver-based MediaNews Group since March 2018, said in a filing with the Alliance for Audited Media that its total weekday print circulation over the six months from April to September [of 2020] averaged 24,540 per day. That’s down from 34,219 in the same six month span in 2019 — a 28% drop in a single year.

Even more knee-buckling: “Over the six months from April to September [of 2020], single-copy sales of the Herald averaged 12,619 per day, according to the filing. Last year, the average from April to September was 21,331 — a 41% drop.”

Even more knee-buckling: The Herald’s digital subscriptions at the same time were somewhere south of 10,000.

So any advertising revenue is welcome at the scrawny local tabloid – even from the hately local broadsheet.


RIP Marvin Hagler (PS: He Totally Beat Ray Leonard)

March 14, 2021

I’ve always had a soft spot for Marvin Hagler, given that he launched my career as a media analyst.

As I’ve written elsewhere, on April 15, 1985 I trundled down to the old Boston Garden with a couple of friends to catch the closed-circuit telecast of the fight between undisputed middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, the world junior middleweight champion who was moving up in weight class.

Also undisputed: The first three minutes of the fight constituted one of the greatest rounds, if not the greatest, of all time.

 

 

As we exited the old Causeway Street barn after those eight minutes of frenzied fighting, I said to my friend Greg, “that was direct response at its best, yeah?”

Greg happened to be the editor of the monthly trade publication AdEast. He said, “wanna write that up for our next issue? I need it by five o’clock tomorrow.”

No problem.

 

 

Crowd went nuts graf:

The Garden crowd had started in a frenzy and worked its way into high gear. Between rounds they would hold whatever pitch they had reached, then crank it up another notch when the action was rejoined. It built and it built and in the third round, it blew.

It was a direct response to Hagler’s ultimate response – occasioned, oddly enough, by a break in the action. The referee stopped the fight to check the cut on Hagler’s forehead. Hagler, always fearful of the officials in Las Vegas, decided to put the hammer down.

He crossed-up Hearns with a right lead to the temple that sent the challenger stumbling backward, somehow staying upright, halfway across the ring. And Hagler chased him, and landed another vicious shot to the same place. That’s when the oblivion express pulled into the station. Hagler’s third right took care of the baggage.

The roar went beyond sound. It became the very air itself.

After that I became a regular AdEast columnist, then a columnist for Ad Week, an advertising commentator for WBUR, an advertising analyst for the Boston Globe, and etc.

All thanks to Marvin Hagler.

And now we need to address his sendoff in the Boston dailies.

The Globe has its story on Page One of the Sports section. It touches on the usual highlights of Hagler’s career – winning the middleweight belt in 1980 by beating Alan Minter in a London bout, the classic battle with Hearns, his final fight against Leonard (who has always been just Ray Leonard to me, as there is only one Sugar Ray, and that would be Robinson).

As the piece points out, Leonard ducked Hagler for years. “They finally met in 1987, Hagler almost 33 years old and 66 fights into his career. Leonard won a controversial split decision that night, Hagler’s last in ring. He left dejected and angered, never to return to the squared circle. ”

He was right to be angry, as this AP piece in today’s Herald indicates.

Leonard . . . was coming off a three-year layoff from a detached retina, in [Hagler’s] final fight in 1987. Hagler was favored going into the fight and many thought he would destroy Leonard — but Leonard had other plans.

While Hagler pursued him around the ring, Leonard fought backing up, flicking out his left jab and throwing combinations that didn’t hurt Hagler but won him points on the ringside scorecards. Still, when the bell rang at the end of the 12th round, many thought Hagler had pulled out the fight — only to lose a controversial split decision.

Beyond that, Leonard would actually stand and trade punches for the final 30 seconds of each round, which the credulous judges bought as carrying the fight.

The Herald’s Bruce Castleberry puts it nicely in his piece today: “[Leonard] was a boxer, not a fighter. I couldn’t stand the way he approached the sport. In and out of the ring, everything was calculated and programmed. Soulless.”

Marvin Hagler, by contrast, was soulful. And complicated. And a joy to watch. As the memorials say, gone too soon at age 66.


Boston Globe Bleeds Subscribers for Extra $109/year

January 28, 2021

For the past year or two, the hardreading staff has subscribed to the print edition of the Boston Sunday Globe, which also gets us unlimited digital access to the stately local broadsheet (as well as the print edition of the Saturday Globe, which for some inexplicable reason we started getting for no additional charge).

And then yesterday we got this in our emailbox.

Dear Globe Subscriber,

It’s become a bit clichéd to say that 2020 was a year unlike any other. But there’s no other good way to sum it up. It was a year in which we saw unfathomable death from the global pandemic. We saw so much of our economy collapse. We saw a vital social justice movement. We saw the most important presidential campaign in generations. And we saw an election aftermath unlike any that came before.

We also saw how much journalism mattered . . .

As costs of covering the news have increased, we are increasing the weekly rate by $2.10, effective on your next subscription renewal . . .

Not to get technical about it, but it turns out that by “subscription renewal” the Globe means “your next automatic credit card payment.”

So, starting sort of right now, a hike of $109.20 per annum.

For those of you keeping score at home, Boston Business Journal stalwart Don Seiffert detailed the Globe rate card last year.

The Globe’s subscription rates have historically been considered among the highest of any regional daily in the nation. Its website currently indicates a regular, weekday subscription rate of $21 a week ($1,092 a year), and a Sunday-only rate of $8 a week ($416 per year), after introductory discounts expire . . .

The Globe’s regular online-only subscription rate, before discounts, is $6.93 per week, or $360 annually.

Subscription rates vary widely, but bottom line for us: We could pay $556 to keep what we currently have, or drop the Sunday print edition and save $224 a year.

Which is exactly what we did.

So we gotta ask: Who’s doing the math at the Boston Globe?

As this BBJ chart shows, print subscriptions are cratering at the Globe while online subscriptions rise.

How does replacing departed $1000 print subscribers with (at best) $525 digital subscribers work as a revenue model? Taking a 50% haircut for every lost print subscription hardly seems a recipe for long-term success. (Keep in mind that the Globe’s print circulation in 2013 – when John Henry bought the paper – was 245,572.)

Or are we missing something here?


Boston Globe Ad: German Reunification Is Wunderbar Boston Globe News: Not So Fast

October 5, 2020

Interesting juxtaposition in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe.

Item One: This half-page Wunderbar Together ad on A12.

 

 

Body copy:

 

Wunderbar!

Item Two: This pickup on A15 from the New York Times piece by Katrin Bennhold.

 

 

Neo-Nazis go nuts graf:

“Reunification was a huge boost for the far right,” said [Ingo] Hasselbach, who left the neo-Nazi scene years ago and now helps others to do the same. “The neo-Nazis were the first ones to be reunified. We laid the foundation for a party like [Alternative for Germany]. There are things we used to say that have become mainstream today.”

 

Your headscratch goes here.


Boston Globe Whiffs Again on Alex Verdugo’s Past

September 7, 2020

In his Sunday Baseball Notes column, Boston Globe reporter Peter Abraham had this to say in one of his bulleted Red Sox observations.

▪ You can, and should, hate the Betts trade. But Sox fans are clearly warming up to Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo had an .875 OPS through his first 38 games, but it’s much more than that. He plays with passion, and after a few fundamental flubs early in the season has become an excellent outfielder. His seven outfield assists lead the majors. There are 23 teams who don’t have as many.

Verdugo also runs out every ground ball regardless of the score and seems genuinely happy to be playing for the Red Sox. There’s a lot to like.

 

Except, of course, that 2015 business about Verdugo witnessing the assault of a teenage girl by two of his minor league teammates and doing nothing about it. [CORRECTION: It was two women who committed the assault.]

Yesterday’s column was at least the second time that Abraham has put on the pom poms for Verdugo. Here’s what the hardreading staff wrote back in February.

The story has also been all over Twitter this past week. But there was nothing in the stately local broadsheet until this story by Peter Abraham and Alex Speier ran in the Boston Sunday Globe (and was buried on the website).

To call that eyewash is an insult to saline solution everywhere.

 

Especially since it omitted some significant facts, as Jessica Quiroli – who has chronicled the incident in chilling detail on her blog All Heels on Deck – noted on Twitter at the time.

It’s curious that neither one of those pieces by Abraham disclosed John Henry’s dual ownership of the Boston GlobeSox. In fact, very few Globe pieces on the Red Sox include disclosure these days. Even the normally fastidious Dan Shaughnessy, while trashing Red Sox ownership in this piece just up on the web, has dropped disclosure.

And as we’ve previously stated, before you bother pelting us with tweets, a) No, everyone does not know that Henry owns them both, and b) Even if everyone did know, the disclosure should still be in there.

Yes – every single time.