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.


Mass. Senate Wannabe Joe K 3.0 Is a Total Weenie

August 10, 2020

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Joseph P. Kennedy III’s primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Dad Sneakers) is grounded in nothing but naked ambition.

That, however, has not kept the Kennedy campaign from whining about non-existent attacks from the Markey campaign.

From Danny McDonald’s piece in the Boston Sunday Globe about a pro-Kennedy super PAC ad attacking Markey and the back-and-forth between the campaigns.

[Emily] Kaufman, the Kennedy campaign spokeswoman, said, “None of us have experienced anything like the vitriol, misinformation, and personal attacks launched at Joe and his supporters by Senator Markey’s network over the past several months. It has been horrific. And we think the Senator needs to take responsibility for the tone and tenor of the people supporting him in this race.”

 

Seriously? As the estimable Dan Kennedy (no relation to Joe) tweeted:

 

 

Our conclusion: Joe K 3.0 is a Chapstick snowflake who has run a thoroughly unpersuasive challenge to a sitting senator when there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two on policy issues.

Your conclusion goes here.


Lord + Taylor Retail Chain Takes Bostonians for Idiots

August 4, 2020

Venerable department store chain Lord + Taylor, which recently had the bright idea to sell itself to online clothing rental outfit Le Tote, has now filed for bankruptcy protection.

It also ran this full-page ad in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

 

 

Drive-us-nuts graf.

Nowhere in all that advertising eyewash (which is actually an insult to saline solution everywhere) does L+T reveal that it has closed every one of its stores in the Greater Boston area.

Call the roll.

  • Burlington Mall, 1320 Burlington Mall Road, Burlington, Massachusetts
  • Natick Mall, 1245 Worcester Road Natick, Massachusetts
  • Prudential Center, 760 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts
  • South Shore Plaza, 250 Granite St., Braintree, Massachusetts

 

As the local pearl clutchers might say, O My Lord + Taylor!


Boston Herald Jacks Up Newsstand Price by 40%

June 8, 2020

Sharp-eyed commenter Mark sent this heads-up to the hardreading staff today.

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?

(For the single copy price of 3 months of Heralds, you can get home delivery for a year. For less than 3 weeks of single copy Heralds, you can read the e-edition for a year.)

 

The truth is, we hadn’t noticed. When we checked, though, we discovered that a week ago the newsstand price of the costly local tabloid went from this . . .

 

 

. . . to this.

 

(Newsstand prices for both the Boston Globe and the New York Times are $3 weekdays and $6 Sunday, if you’re keeping score at home.)

While the hike might be startling, it’s hardly surprising. Herald ad revenues are increasingly anemic, and print circulation is deep into its death spiral, as the Boston Business Journal’s redoubtable Don Seiffert reported last month.

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.

 

Eye-popping chart:

And then there’s this, also from Seiffert’s piece. “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.”

So to summarize: The value proposition at the skimpy local tabloid seems to be something along the lines of The Boston Herald: You give us more, we’ll give you less.

Law of diminishing returns, anyone?


Editors at New York Times: ‘What’s a Boston Herald?’

May 25, 2020

Yesterday’s jaw-dropping New York Times front page has rightfully been the talk of the media world.

 

 

Also rightfully, the Times cited its sources at the end of the four-page roll call.

 

 

The publications appear in alphabetical order. Here are the B’s.

 

 

You see who’s missing there? That’s right – the Herald.

The hardcounting staff tallied 264 publications nationwide that the Times consulted for biographical details on the 1000 coronavirus victims who peopled yesterday’s list.

But not the Boston Herald (whose print circulation, the Boston Business Journal’s Don Seiffert reported last week, has fallen below 30,000 – down 46% from four years ago).

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


Boston Globe Recycles Work of Other Newsrooms

April 15, 2020

From our No Credit Where Credit’s Due desk

Let’s stipulate here that the Boston Globe has done yeoman’s work covering the local coronavirus calamity.

But let’s also acknowledge that the Globeniks have occasionally drafted off the work of other news organizations in the process.

Exhibit A: This Page One Globe story last Saturday.

 

 

Moving piece. No mention, though, of the Boston Herald’s Page One story that ran three days earlier.

 

 

Exhibit B: This piece by Steve Annear in yesterday’s Globe.

Separated by coronavirus, 88-year-old Watertown man uses bucket truck to see wife at nursing home

“They could have lifted me 10 stories and it would not have bothered me,” Nick Avtges said. “As long as I got to see her.”

Up until recently — before everything changed — 88-year-old Nick Avtges would wake up each morning, have his breakfast, and then head out to see his wife, Marion, at the Maristhill Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, where she’s been living for the last year. He would stay with her all day, hardly leaving her side.

“He’s been a very devoted husband,” said James Tracy, president and administrator of the Waltham center. “He never missed a day.”

But in March, as the novel coronavirus continued to spread, posing a critical threat to residents at facilities like the one where Marion, 85, is staying, the center went from reducing its visitations to not allowing visitors at all.

 

Once again, no credit to the original story by Joanna Tzouvelis six days ago in the MetroWest Daily News.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, lots of other news outlets drafted off the MetroWest story without attribution.

But you’d think the Boston Globe – five days later – would be better than that.

Unfortunately, you’d think wrong.