Jed Gottlieb Is Last Pop Music Critic at a Boston Daily

March 1, 2019

When I first arrived in Boston in the fall of 1974 (“Hey, people, what’s with the forced busing? Are you meshugge?”), you couldn’t spit without hitting a music magazine. Pop Top, Rock Around the World, Night Life, Musicians Guide, Nightfall – they were all over town.

And there were so many music critics, even I was one, writing for all of the above under severel variations of my name.

Representative samples:

 

 

If you didn’t pay close attention at the time, you almost wouldn’t notice I knew virtually nothing about music.

Now comes the Boston Herald’s Jed Gottlieb – the last pop music critic at a major Boston newspaper – to survey the wreckage of local music coverage in a piece for Fast Company headlined “The web is killing newspaper arts critics like me. Why that matters.”

This is nuts graf:

The vast majority of daily papers cover a fraction of the concerts, albums, films, TV shows, theater productions, and gallery and museum exhibits than they did 10 years ago. A quick look at the rolls of professional organizations–the American Theatre Critics Association, the Jazz Journalists Association, the National Society of Film Critics–shows less than 10% of members holding full-time jobs at papers, down from approximately 50%, depending on the organization, around 2000.

 

Gottlieb says the internet – which has played a major role in the decline of newspapers over all – is no substitute for what it has muscled out. “Online arts outlets, from full-fledged magazines to blogs run by a single person . . . produce vital, smart, passionate work, but they can’t replace the loss of arts coverage at papers.”

Or the beneficial side effects of newspaper arts coverage.

Arts writers provide a historical record of their beat like any other reporter. When holes start appearing in that historical record (or when it is abandoned completely), arts organizations can suffer. Newspaper coverage serves as promotion for community theater companies, small galleries, unknown rock bands, and others without PR or advertising budgets. Both authors and musicians have told me print reviews spark interest from publishers and record labels, even when sales lag.

 

In the end, Gottlieb says, what is lost goes beyond the “stumble-upon effect” of newspapers, in which readers encounter arts coverage on their way to, say, the sports pages. It’s also this: “Every piece of good arts writing dips, if ever so slightly, into the human experience, into what it means to be alive. No piece of fantasy football draft advice or gossip item about [Miley] Cyrus’s marriage can do that.”

Check out the whole piece. It’s good arts writing.

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Two Shades of Harold Brown in Boston Dailies’ Obits

February 26, 2019

In the eyes of some Bostonians, real estate magnate Harold Brown, who died on Sunday at the age of 94, was a legendary slumlord; to others he was a storied landlord and philanthropist.

In the local dailies he was both – but in separate papers.

The first sendoff came in yesterday’s Boston Herald, with the main source for Sean Philip Cotter’s piece being Brown’s rabbi.

Storied landlord Brown dies at 94

Boston native built real estate empire

Harold Brown, the storied Boston landlord who turned one small apartment building into a sprawling real estate empire, has died, according to his rabbi. He was 94.

Brown, who retired from his position atop Hamilton Co. at age 93 last year, amassed billions of dollars worth of Boston-area property over more than six decades in the real estate business and created a charitable foundation that gave to local causes.

 

Today the frothy local tabloid features this piece on the Obituaries page, which described Brown as being “[k]nown for his quick wit, no-nonsense approach and generosity.” But apparently that wasn’t enough hagiography for the Herald, because Howie Carr also weighs in today with this mash note.

Harold Brown: Hard worker, veteran, friend

Harold Brown was a friend of mine.

He was good to me, my family, and a lot of other people. Talk about up by the bootstraps — his mother was a fortuneteller, that’s how she put food on the table during the Depression. He was a veteran of both World War II and Korea.

When he died on Sunday, at age 94, Harold Brown was probably worth well over $1 billion. He had long ago set up a giant charitable foundation. If you walked through the door of his modest offices on Brighton Avenue with your hand out, chances are, you and your group got taken care of.

 

The rest of the column is classic whataboutism: Everyone greased politicians, Brown just forgot to delegate his bribery. Hey! – the Kennedys were slumlords too. That 75 State Street scandal? Brown was the victim of Whitey Bulger, not the scammer.

And etc.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, Brown’s life is a very different story, although Bryan Marquard’s obit starts off in standard style.

HAROLD BROWN 1925-2019

Hard-driving developer reshaped housing

Harold Brown liked to tell the story of growing up so poor that his immigrant mother padlocked the icebox between meals to keep her seven hungry children from pilfering food the family would need for its next meal.

Years later he was faring better. In the mid-1950s, fresh from the success of building a doughnut shop chain, he bought his first rental property — a Commonwealth Avenue apartment building. One purchase led to another as he created a formidable real estate empire that his company estimates at $2.3 billion.

 

The Globe obit gives a more straightforward recounting of Brown’s legal woes and financial shenanigans, from a federal bribery conviction in 1986 to his 1991 filing for bankruptcy protection when he was $650 million in debt.

But the Globe also gives him his due on the business side (“At one point in the 1980s . . . Mr. Brown’s holdings were so expansive that he estimated he collected rent from one of every 15 tenants in Greater Boston”) and on the philanthropic front, from his establishing The Hamilton Company Charitable Foundation and contributing to Franciscan Children’s to rescuing the Coolidge Corner Theatre and donating a $2.3 million building to house the Fenway Community Health Center.

Taken all together, that’s exactly why you want to live in a two-daily town.


Boston Herald Comic Mocks Globe’s Comic Stripping

February 22, 2019

As the hardreading staff has diligently chronicled, the Boston Globe joined dozens of other newspapers in dumping Non Sequitur for inviting Donald Trump to do something anatomically impossible in its comic strip last week.

 

 

In yesterday’s Boston Herald comics page, Pearls Before Swine offered this commentary.

 

 

Beyond that, Two Daily Town has received several protests to the Globe’s defenestration of Non Sequitur.

Draw, as it were, your own conclusions.


Super Bowl CongrADulations Spike Boston Herald

February 5, 2019

From our never-ending Local Dailies DisADvantage desk

In the wake of the New England Patriots’ victory in Stupor Bowl LIII, yesterday’s editions of the Boston dailies marked Celebration Day for the six-time champions.

Begin with the Boston Globe, where the Kraft Family bought page 3 of the Score section.

 

 

From there the congradulations took an oddly retail turn, starting with this sort of oblique Hood full page.

 

 

Next up was this 7-Eleven full page ad offering some Hangover Relief Specials.

 

 

Representative copy:

 

 

And then the back page of Score, brought to you by Pepsi, the Official Soft Drink of the New England Patriots and Super Bowl LIII.

 

 

Yes, that is the Chris Hogan of six targets, zero receptions, and zero yardage in the Big Game. But why get technical about it.

Finally, the A section of the Globe featured this full-page shoutout from Bank of America.

 

 

Of all the ads above, only that last one ran in the Boston Herald.

Today it’s a different story – it’s Tchotchke Day in the local dailies! Here’s a sample of the Patsabilia you can find in today’s Globe.

 

 

And here’s what the Herald is offering.

 

 

Not for nothing, but the hardreading staff gravitates toward the Levitating Football.

One final, poignant note: The thirsty local tabloid, after being passed over by so many advertisers yesterday, was finally reduced to running a congratulatory ad from . . . “the entire staff at the Boston Herald.”

 

 

That’s just, well, sad.


Digital First Media Pumps Out More Xerox Journalism

January 14, 2019

As the hardreading staff noted earlier today, Digital First Media –  the hedge-fund-fueled conglomerate that strips newspapers like cars left overnight on the Cross Bronx Expressway – has stepped up its news sharing among the chain’s Massachusetts dailies.

Yesterday it was Lowell Sun reporter Rick Sobey’s heart-rending front-page story of Anna Aslanian’s taking her own life to escape bullying. That piece wound up on Page One of the Boston Herald as well.

 

 

Today the papers criss-crossed: Herald reporter Alexi Cohan’s Special Report on bullying and the nine-year anniversary of South Hadley High student Phoebe Prince’s suicide migrated from the splicey local tabloid to the Sun’s front page.

 

 

Cohan’s reporting also appeared in Fitchburg’s Sentinel & Enterprise, another DFM kissin’ cousin.

Given Digital First Media’s neutron bombing of its newsrooms and recent consolidation of its “Northeast Cluster” under a Regional Editor in Chief, it’s fair to assume that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this carbon copycatting in the future.

Not sure, however, that we’ll keep our subscription to the Eastern Massachusetts Herald-Sun-Sentinel.


Parent Company Sharing Economy Hits Boston Herald

January 14, 2019

This was bound to happen.

Last month Digital Worst – sorry, First – Media, the hedge-fund-fueled conglomerate that strips newspapers like cars left overnight on the Cross Bronx Expressway, made this announcement.

Herald editor named head of Digital First Media’s Northeast region

Boston Herald Editor in Chief Joe Sciacca has been named to oversee the editorial operations of seven daily newspapers in Digital First Media’s Northeast Cluster, the media company announced today.

As Regional Editor in Chief, Sciacca will oversee DFM’s papers in Massachusetts and New York. Those papers include the Boston Herald; The Lowell Sun; Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg; the Daily Freeman in Kingston, The Record of Troy, The Saratogian of Saratoga Springs and Oneida Daily Dispatch.

 

Logical conclusion?

Mixmaster!

Cue the Lowell Sun’s front page yesterday, which featured the heart-rending story of Anna Aslanian’s taking her own life to escape bullying.

 

 

Then cut to the splicey local tabloid’s Page One piggyback on that same story.

 

 

Clearly, this is the wave of the future for “Digital First Media’s Northeast Cluster.”

Sort of a cluster buck, no?


Boston Globe ‘Names’ Is 2 Days Late, 5 Dollars Short

December 31, 2018

The hardreading staff has noticed – as perhaps you splendid readers have also – that the Boston Globe’s Names column tends to be a weak carbon copy of Olivia Vanni’s Inside Track at the Boston Herald.

Latest case in point: Rob Delaney’s blue Christmas without his son Henry, who died at the age of 2 1/2 earlier this year.

Vanni’s Herald piece on Friday.

Rob Delaney publicly grieves loss of son

While the holidays are meant to be a time for all that’s merry and bright, Rob Delaney gave everyone a friendly reminder that grief doesn’t take a break. The Marblehead-raised comedian/actor/writer recently got real on Twitter, opening up about his family’s first Christmas since the passing of his toddler son, Henry, in a series of emotional posts.

“Our first Christmas without Henry came & went,” he wrote. “The day itself was okay, maybe because there were so many horrible, painful days leading up to it; we must have hit our quota or something. We talked about him a lot & included his memory throughout the day.”

 

Boston Globe Lames – sorry, Names – item yesterday.

Rob Delaney shares experience of first Christmas without son

The day after Christmas, Rob Delaney tweeted about what the holiday was like without his son Henry, who died at age 2½ earlier this year. The “Catastrophe” actor and Marblehead native wrote that he talks publicly about Henry to help “destigmatize grief” for other families who have experienced loss. Henry was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016 and died in January.

“Our first Christmas without Henry came & went,” Delaney wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “The day itself was okay, maybe because there were so many horrible, painful days leading up to it; we must have hit our quota or something. We talked about him a lot & included his memory throughout the day.”

 

The daily Herald costs two bucks. The Sunday Globe costs five. You tell us which is worth your gossip dollar.