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 Herald Goes Full MAGAt on Pardon for Trump

January 15, 2021

For the past five years the Boston Herald has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Donald Trump, but today the chumpy local tabloid has plumbed new depths.

From Jay Fitzgerald and Keith Regan in today’s MASSterList:

Curious timing: ‘Biden should consider pardon for Trump’

It’s pretty amazing for a newspaper editorial board that has remained absolutely silent, one way or the other, on President Trump’s divisive charges that the presidential election was stolen from him is now advising Joe Biden to consider giving Trump a pardon. But that’s exactly what a Herald editorial is advising this morning.

We’re a long, long way from the sane Pat Purcell/Rachelle Cohen editorial days at the Herald, folks.

Here it is.

Totally nuts graf from the madcap editorial:

Pardoning Trump would also give Biden room to address the country’s urgent problems, such as getting coronavirus vaccines to all who need them, freeing up stimulus checks to help struggling families, and taking steps to get the economy back on track after a devastating year.

Seriously? Pardoning Trump is going to get Biden to 60 votes in the Senate? Or convince more than 60% of Americans to actually get vaccinated?

That’s about as likely as Trump taking Biden to Bedminster for a round of golf.

I don’t know what they’re smoking at the goofy local tabloid, but it’s probably not cigars.


Boston Herald: Local News in Danger, Please Send $

August 7, 2020

Well the hardreading staff opened up the old mailbag yesterday and what should pour out but this email from the Boston Herald.

 

How you can help the local business of delivering local news

Local news is in danger.

Coronavirus and stay-at-home orders have forced many local businesses to close. If a business closes, it’s not likely to advertise. The result has been a dramatic decline in the advertising revenue that supports local news organizations like ours.

To offset the losses, we have furloughed staff, cut back on the size of the newspaper to save newsprint costs and reduced other expenses. We don’t want to do any more of that. Deeper cuts jeopardize our ability to deliver a comprehensive daily report that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in your community . . .

The only way local news like ours will survive is through the support of readers like you.

 

That’s rich coming from a newspaper whose hedge fund owners at Alden Global Capital have stripped it like a car left overnight on the Cross Bronx Expressway.

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

To recap: The vampire capitalists get to suck the lifeblood out of the scrawny local tabloid and we’re expected to provide a transfusion?

Pass the garlic, please.


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.


Boston Herald Quarantined From Full-Page COVADS

April 5, 2020

From our Local Dailies DisADvantage desk

As the hardreading staff has noted numerous times, the Boston Herald has long been the wallflower at the local advertising dance.

And so it remains in the time of coronavirus.

To be sure, Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits has been a loyal customer lately with full-page ads like this one.

 

 

And Stop & Shop ran this thank you ad today.

 

 

But that’s pretty much it for the thirsty local tabloid.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, though (wait – that doesn’t work any more since the Globe moved to State Street and the Herald moved to Braintree and anyway everyone’s working remotely so the hell with it) – the full-page ads are coming fast and furious.

Yesterday there was this ad from the Veterans Cannabis Project urging Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Bogart) to designate all adult-use Massachusetts cannabis dispensaries as essential services.

 

 

Auto magnate Herb Chambers also went full-page yesterday.

 

 

Today is even better for the stately local broadsheet. It got the Chambers ad again and the Stop & Shop thank you ad. But today’s edition also features this Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ad.

 

 

Body copy:

And this Uber ad.

 

 

Body copy:

 

 

Memo to Blue Cross and Uber: Maybe next time send some of that love to the Herald as well.


Mike Bloomberg Even Has Ads in the Boston Herald

February 9, 2020

The chattering classes have no idea how far Mike Bloomberg’s staggering 300-million-going-on-one billion-dollar ad campaign extends.

Here’s conservative hall monitor Rich Lowry in yesterday’s Boston Herald op-ed page.

The level of his spending is truly astonishing — Croesus goes all-in on Super Tuesday. He’s spent more than $300 million on various forms of advertising. By the end, he’s going to make the profligate self-funder Tom Steyer — who managed to pointlessly buy himself onto the Democratic debate stage — look like a penny-pincher.

Bloomberg is running a presidential campaign that Curtis LeMay would love, carpet-bombing the airwaves every single day. He’s single-handedly changed the market for TV ads in many places. He spent $10 million on a Super Bowl spot, or about half of what Joe Biden raised in the entire fourth quarter.

 

And here’s what appears right below that on the Herald’s website.

 

 

Megabucks Mike is also running ads in the Herald’s E-Edition. This is what we got when we double-clicked for the text version of a Sinn Fein piece.

 

 

Most analysts – Lowry included – have focused on Bloomberg’s TV buys. But when a campaign is peppering the likes of the flimsy local tabloid with ads, it’s way beyond carpet-bombing.

Mike Bloomberg has gone nuclear.


Turn the Boston Herald Sideways, It Sorta Disappears

January 16, 2020

Since Digital Worst – sorry, First – Media bought it in 2018, the Boston Herald has been, to borrow a phrase from the great Raymond Chandler, thin as the gold on a weekend wedding ring, officially making the Herald the flimsy local tabloid.

And getting flimsier all the time.

Take yesterday’s edition: Of the paper’s 48 pages, four-and-a-half were given over to house ads such as this one.

 

 

Something under two pages were occupied by display – that is to say, paid – ads.

That’s non-business-as-usual for the fading local tabloid, which is suffering  knee-buckling decreases in both circulation and ad revenue.

As the redoubtable Don Seiffert noted in the Boston Business Journal last month, “[a]s of September 2014, the Herald had weekday print circulation of 60,960. As of this past September — six years later — that number was down to 33,337. Over the past year, the Herald’s weekday print circulation fell 16 percent.”

The paper’s Sunday circulation is even lower than its weekday readership, a distinction few metro dailies can claim.

Bottom line: The Boston Herald is disappearing in slow motion right before our eyes.

No wonder the hardreading staff has kissin’ cousins at It’s Sad to Live in a One-Daily Town.

And it will be, whatever you might think of the dodgy local tabloid.