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.


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 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.