Is Herb Chambers Driving Boston Globe Auto Section?

October 29, 2019

After the hardreading staff noted the Boston Globe’s ads-in-sheep’s-clothing inserts that have appeared in the paper the past two weeks, sharp-eyed reader Mark Laurence posted this comment.

How about the Boston Globe Auto section on Saturday and Sunday? The top half of the front page always has a glowing review of a new vehicle, in normal Globe typeface. The bottom half is always an ad from Herb Chambers selling that same vehicle. Yesterday it wasn’t even labeled as an advertising section.

 

Not to get technical about it, Mark, but it’s not really an advertising section. Seems more like an ad-liance.

It can hardly be a coincidence that on four of the past seven Sundays, a Herb Chambers ad below the fold offered the vehicle featured above it.

Representative sample: On October 20, Page One of the Globe’s Sunday Autos section contained an August 24 review of the 2020 Lincoln Aviator by the Detroit Free Press’s Mark Phelan.

 

 

As you can see, the featured vehicle in the ad is the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. Similar combos occurred on September 15, September 29, and October 27. Interestingly, the September 29th review spotlighted . . . the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. Herb must have a bunch of those sitting on the lot.

The question, of course, is this: Does the Globe give Chambers a heads-up on what review is running each Sunday, or does Chambers get to call the car? The harddriving staff would hate to think it’s the latter.

 


Boston Sunday Globe Inserts: Ads in Sheep’s Clothing

October 28, 2019

Branded content comes in many forms, as our kissin’ cousins at Sneak Attack have extensively chronicled. The New York Times has been particularly adroit at all forms of branded content, which Sneak Adtack noted earlier this year.

For the past four years the hardtracking staff has chronicled the drift by the New York Times toward cross-platform integration of native advertising, a.k.a. Russian Nesting Ads. A company runs an ad in the paper’s print edition that promotes an online ad that the Times’s T Brand Studio has created to look like editorial content. (Representative sample here.)

 

The Boston Globe, on the other hand, has only flirted with native advertising up to now, as in this bit of UMass marketing from a few years ago. Given the evidence of the past week, though, the $tately local broadsheet seems ready to dive into the deep end of the stealth marketing pool.

Last week’s Boston Sunday Globe included this eight-page Advertising Supplement produced by Boston Globe Media’s BG BrandLab.

 

 

With branded content, the first thing you want to look at is disclosure – how clear is it to readers that they’re looking at marketing material and not editorial content?

Give this effort a C- in transparency. “Special Report” is about three times the type size of “Advertising Supplement” on the front page, and this sort-of masthead – buried bottom left – occupies about five percent of page two.

 

 

Inside there are six unbylined articles along with four “Provided by” items that are presumably paid content.

 

 

Not surprisingly, the advertising supplement’s “Knowledge Partners” at the bottom of Page One also occupied some of the inside space, starting with this American Cancer Society advertorial atop page two.

 

 

Then the Boston Breast Cancer Equity Coalition got its ad turn.

 

 

And, of course, Susan G. Komen New England also made an advertising appearance.

 

 

There were also traditional ads for Lady Grace, Avon, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Then yesterday came this Special Report on cybersecurity.

 

 

In terms of transparency, this one gets a D. Start with the top of page two, which looks very much like a standard Editor’s Letter.

 

 

(Note to BGniks: You might want to standardize the spelling of your name. The front page has BG BrandLab, the foreword is by BG Brandlab, and the sign-off is The BG Brand Labs Team. Details, people.)

The sort-of masthead that was small in the first insert is positively minuscule in this one.

 

 

See that tiny band at the bottom? That’s it.

Other differences: There are a couple of bylined articles; “Provided by” has mostly turned into “Sponsored by” (one of them is on election security from Brianna Wu, although it does not identify her as a primary challenger to Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts’ 8th district – bad investment); and the Knowledge Partners on the front page – the National Cyber Security Alliance and Mitre – don’t have ads inside.

Oh, yes – and the whole thing looks a lot more like an editorial section than the first one.

But at least those two inserts are marginally transparent about being marketing material. Far worse was last month’s Globe wet kiss to Boston Children’s Hospital in the form of A 150th Anniversary Special Issue. It’s just the latest instance of the Globe’s playing footsie with BCH over the past few years, although it’s an especially egregious one in that it required the participation of the Globe newsroom.

It’s one puff piece after another, interspersed with dozens of costly congratulatory ads.

But no mention in those 68 pages of the hospital’s wanton destruction of the beloved Prouty Garden, or the battle over the hospital’s questionable expansion to service a projected – but by no means assured – international clientele.

 

To recap:

The BG BrandLab inserts strike us as Misdemeanor Misleading. The BCH 150th anniversary issue was Felony Failure of editorial integrity.

Court is adjourned.


Boston Globe’s Wet Kiss to Children’s: Rx for $$$

September 30, 2019

As the hardreading staff unfolded its Boston Sunday Globe yesterday, we encountered this notice at the bottom of Page One.

Except . . .

We also encountered this 68-page magazine nestled inside the paper.

 

 

Must be an advertising supplement for Boston Children’s Hospital, we thought, given its relentlessly sunny-side-up Table of Contents.

 

 

But, actually, the magazine was produced by Boston Globe staffers.

 

 

It’s one puff piece after another, interspersed with dozens of costly congratulatory ads.

But no mention in those 68 pages of the hospital’s wanton destruction of the beloved Prouty Garden, or the battle over the hospital’s questionable expansion to service a projected – but by no means assured – international clientele.

(To be clear graf goes here)

To be clear, this isn’t the first time the Globe has played footsie with BCH. As we previously noted:

Boston Globe $hilling Again for Children’s Hospital

This is getting really flagrant.

As the hardreading staff has noted multiple times, the Boston Globe has put on a full-court press over the past week promoting the proposed expansion of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Last week it was an op-ed piece from former Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation president Michael Widmer urging state officials to get off their duffs and approve the expansion, already. Problem was, the Globe failed to mention that Widmer sits on the hospital’s Board Committee for Community Service.

On Sunday, this Globe editorial urged the state’s Public Health Council to approve the project.

Now today comes this op-ed by Jack Connors Jr., chairman emeritus of Partners HealthCare.

 

Not to mention the Globe’s accepting full-page ads from Children’s as it supported the hospital’s expansion on its Business pages and providing op-ed space for BCH president and CEO Sandra Fenwick to plead her case unopposed by dissenting points of view, of which there have been many.

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, newspapers routinely produce vehicles largely designed to draw advertisers. This one just seems a little, well, germy.


Boston Globe Packages Self-Promotion As News

September 28, 2019

The hardreading staff has diligently chronicled the Boston Herald’s tendency to turn publicity material into editorial content (see our ongoing series Hark! The Herald! for details of the selfie local tabloid’s puffery).

But, truth be told, the Boston Globe is not immune to that same temptation. As we noted not long ago, “the Boston Globe has lately done its share of self-promotion as well. There was all the hubbub in the newshole last month over the paper’s HUBweek festival, and this wet kiss for ‘Globe Live’ in the Names column last week.”

Now comes this front-page piece in yesterday’s $tately local broadsheet.

 

 

C’mon, Globeniks – that’s not news; it’s PR.

Rather than make poor Andy Rosen “report” your press releases, why not promote HubWeek the same way you do the GlobeDocs Film Festival?

 

 

Perhaps because . . . Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Globe’s managing director and wife of Globe owner John Henry, is also cofounder of HubWeek.

Perhaps.


Boston Globe Flatters John Bercow, Skips Misconduct

September 19, 2019

It’s not just that the headline on this piece in yesterday’s Boston Globe about outgoing Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is so thoroughly tin-eared and obtuse.

UK House Speaker takes the high road

Declines to criticize Johnson or Trump

John Bercow, the stentorian speaker of the British House of Commons, wouldn’t take the bait. In an interview Tuesday, Bercow wouldn’t criticize fiery Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whom last week he compared to a bank robber.

The speaker wouldn’t comment on whether he opposes a “no-deal” Brexit, which Johnson has said he is determined to implement Oct. 31, even though the House of Commons last week demanded an extension if no exit agreement is reached with the European Union . . .

“The role of a parliamentary democracy should be preserved, nurtured, and celebrated,” Bercow said. “If we degrade Parliament, we do so at our peril.”

 

The bigger problem is that the piece lets Bercow get away with that last sentence despite the inconvenient fact that his departure from Parliament is entirely due to his own degrading and bullying of the people around him in that same body.

From Kate Maltby’s New York Review of Books piece last week: “The Speaker’s resignation follows a series of independent reports into a culture of bullying and sexual harassment in the House of Commons—an employment culture that it was his job to regulate. To be clear, there are no allegations of sexual harassment against Bercow personally; there are serious allegations (which he denies) of bullying.”

Representative sample:

[T]he flagship BBC news show Newsnight broadcast in May last year allegations that the Speaker was an egregious workplace bully. Among other claims, the BBC reported that Bercow’s private secretary, Kate Emms, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after nine months of working for him. (In a petty twist, Emms was removed from the design of Bercow’s official portrait after complaining.)

 

Not a whiff of any of that in the Globe piece.

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, Globe reporter Brian MacQuarrie can’t be held responsible for the headlines that editors attach to his pieces. But somebody at the Globe should be informed enough to know that John Bercow is not just “stentorian” and “flamboyant” and “a champion of the rank and file.”

Especially when Bercow excoriates “keyboard warriors who think they have a right to berate, harangue, intimidate, or threaten anyone who dares to take a view that differs from their own,” as he did in the Globe piece.

That’s a pretty good description of Bercow himself, according to independent investigators for the House of Commons.

One last note: The headline on Maltby’s NYRB piece is “What the Speaker Bercow Stories Failed to Say.”

Now add the Boston Globe to that roll call.


104 Bay State Groups Call Out Boston Calling Verdict

September 16, 2019

Last month Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan – former aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh – were convicted in federal court on charges of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion (both for Brissette, the latter for Sullivan) for their 2014 arm-twisting of the Boston Calling music festival to hire union workers.

Those verdicts led to a flurry of hand-wringing, as a quick search of the Googletron reveals.

 

 

Now comes this two-page ad that a gaggle of advocacy groups ranging from the A. Philip Randolph Institute to the Worcester Interfaith Coalition ran in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

 

 

(The same spread ran in yesterday’s Boston Herald just harder to read.)

Anyway, here’s the nut graf.

 

 

The hardreading staff is the first to admit that our legal knowledge comes entirely from the Jerry Orbach School of Law, but aren’t gender, race, and religion sort of protected classes in Massachusetts? And aren’t unions, well, not?

Regardless, back to that Google search above. Look closely and you’ll see one dissenting voice among the pearl-clutchers: Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi, who filed this piece in the wake of the Boston Calling verdicts.

Democracy chilled by campaign against Boston Calling verdict

You know what has a chilling effect on democracy?

Telling concert organizers if they don’t hire union workers they don’t need or want, the City of Boston won’t give them a permit for their event.

That’s what a federal jury found Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan, two city hall officials, guilty of doing. But in a bizarre twist of logic, some 70 nonprofit organizations, representing environmental, LGBTQ, housing, senior, education, and civil rights advocates, are calling out the verdict as a democracy slayer. Ten Boston city councilors also signed a statement, decrying the case as a “grievous misuse of limited prosecutorial resources in service of a misguided political agenda” and “a terrible precedent.”

Really?

 

Read the whole piece. It’s an effective chaser to the shot taken in yesterday’s double-trucks.


Boston Dailies Wok & Roil Over Herald Front Page

August 2, 2019

From our Don’t Shoot the Messenger desk

It all started with the Boston Herald’s Thursday Page One.

 

 

The story inside:

 

 

Crosstown at the Boston Globe (which – full disclosure – is not really crosstown since the Globe moved to State Street and the Herald moved to Braintree), busibody columnist Shirley Leung quickly registered her objections.

Herald’s ‘Wok Tall’ front page is no laughing matter for Asian-Americans

I won’t use the “R-word” to describe the front page of Thursday’s Boston Herald, with its “Wok Tall” headline and a clumsy photo illustration depicting Governor Charlie Baker sitting in a giant Chinese takeout box of fried rice.

That’s because our country is so polarized we can’t even agree what is racist and what is not anymore. But for sure, the Herald front page is highly offensive to Chinese-Americans like me — and it should be to everyone else.

Wok jokes are straight out of the 1970s. They weren’t funny then, and they aren’t funny now. What does “Wok Tall” even mean, anyway?

 

Well, here’s what it meant to the Twitterverse’s umbrage-industrial complex.

 

 

(Editor’s Note: Paul Chartier is Former Producer of OMF on WEEI (and K&C for a wild 3 months). David Tanklefsky is an @7News special projects producer, play-by-play man, writer, musician.)

Further:

 

 

(Editor’s Note: Kirk Minihane and Shirley Leung have a history.)

Further:

This isn’t over – not by a long shot.


Bottoms Up! Wine-Store Ad War in Boston Globe!

July 15, 2019

Think of it as a behind-the-bar brawl.

As the hardreading staff has previously noted, the Total Wine chain of liquor stores has dropped a bundle over the past two years on full-page ads in the Boston Globe, sometimes cheek-by-jowl with critical coverage of the retailer’s attempts to change state alcohol rules nationwide to work more in the chain’s favor.

(For a lively debate in this space about whether the Globe should have disclosed its financial connection to Total Wine in those news reports, see here.)

Regardless, Total Wine had pretty much the run of the stately local broadsheet until last Thursday, when this ad appeared on page A16.

 

Here’s the body copy in the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet ad.

Something all serious winemakers and distillers have in common is great pride in their work. Read the label – they’re very eager to tell you all about their history, their traditions, their culture. Oh, it’s not on there? Maybe you’re looking at one of Total Wine’s private-label “house brands” from an unidentified source.

At New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, you will find brands you know and trust at everyday low prices.

 

Whoa – that’s some serious liquor store shade, no?

This being Boston, we expected a serious smashmouth response, but here’s what appeared on page A3 of yesterday’s Globe.

 

 

Average savings of six bucks vs. New Hampshire prices?

That’s all you got, Total Wine?

Total Wimp is more like it.


Hobby Lobby Runs Faith-of-July Ads in Boston Dailies

July 4, 2019

Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court’s favorite toy store, has placed full-page God and Country ads in today’s local dailies.

Here’s the Boston Herald’s page 9.

 

 

And here’s the Boston Globe’s A10.

 

 

The ads are a hodgepodge of quotes from U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, and – wait for it – Alexis de Tocqueville, all meant to bridge the church/state divide and claim the mantle of Psalm 33:12 – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”

Representative sample:

 

 

There are also websites listed where you can Chat About Jesus or download a Bible to your smartphone.

The hardreading staff supposes it should have some smart remark to insert here, but we’ll just let this one speak for itself.


Boston Globe Seems Prepping to Dump Print Edition

June 23, 2019

First, from our Corrections/Clarifications desk: Last month the hardreading staff noted that Two-Daily Town had gone all digital. That, however, was not entirely true: We still get the print edition of the Boston Sunday Globe, so we’re sort of a hybrid Globe subscriber.

It was in that capacity that we received this email yesterday from the stately local broadsheet.

 

We are writing to inform you that we will be updating our Terms of Purchase. These updates apply to anyone who purchases a subscription to BostonGlobe.com or The Boston Globe. These changes will become effective August 1, 2019.

Please review the changes, as well as our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Service.

If you have any questions about these changes, please call our customer service team at 1-888-MY-GLOBE (1-888-694-5623).

Sincerely,

The Boston Globe Team

 

So we checked out the Terms of Purchase (Effective August 01, 2019) and here’s what we found in section 1.2:

Only one person may use each account (user name and password) associated with a purchased digital subscription. A subscription which includes both a print subscription and a digital subscription may include multiple digital subscription accounts (user names), each of which may be used by one person.

 

Just so we’re clear: With a print subscription, multiple users can access the Globe’s digital content (BostonGlobe.com, the Boston Globe ePaper, and the Boston Globe mobile app) for one price. Without a print subscription, only one person gets access to that digital content; anyone else needs to pay for his or her own digital subscription.

Then, here’s what we found in section 2.1:

WE MAY CONTINUE YOUR PRINT SUBSCRIPTION ON A DIGITAL-ONLY SUBSCRIPTION BASIS IN THE EVENT THAT THE PRINT EDITION OF THE BOSTON GLOBE NEWSPAPER IS NOT PRINTED FOR ANY REASON AND FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME, EITHER TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT.

 

Wait, what?

No Boston Globe print edition – for any reason or any length of time – either temporary or permanent – means all bets are off? Whoa.

Let’s play this out.

Say the Globe decides not to publish a print edition on Monday September 2nd, Labor Day. That means every household that shares a digital subscription – such as the hardreading staff’s happy home – would then have to purchase individual digital subscriptions for each household member – whether the Globe then publishes a print edition on September 3rd or not.

More likely: the Globe is considering cutting back – or eliminating – its print edition.

Or maybe this is just a scam – sorry, scheme – to goose digital subscriptions, which now equal print subscriptions but still fall far short of what Globe officials say the paper needs to remain financially viable.

Either way – caveat subscriber.