Will the Globe survive?

By ADAM REILLY  |  April 30, 2009

Based on conversations I've had, the Globe newsroom is generally comfortable with the measured tone Baron has struck since the Times Co. made its threat. One staffer put it this way: "His hands are tied. I think he's fucking heartbroken that he can't do more." (Side note: while there's a rumor that the Times Co. told Baron he couldn't participate in Senator John Kerry's hearings this week on the future of newspapers, Baron says he chose not to testify given long-standing Times Co. tradition, and that he had no desire to appear.) But at the Seaport, Baron's muted tone didn't exactly inspire optimism. After the editor took his seat, a gentleman at my table offered his assessment. "What we're seeing here," he predicted, "is the death of a newspaper."

090501_globeprotest_main
MIXED MESSAGE: A Faneuil Hall rally in support of the Globe had its moments of clarity and inspiration, but was mostly overcome by misplaced speakers, clumsy tactics, and an air of depressed defeatism.
A union divided
There have been rumbles of dissatisfaction from some members of the Boston Newspaper Guild — which is the Globe's largest union, and represents both newsroom and non-newsroom members — for a while now. The current crisis has ratcheted up this frustration: on April 7, for example, the Herald reported that Globe reporter Donovan Slack sent a testy e-mail to the paper's editorial employees after the Guild failed to promptly inform its members of the Times Co.'s threat. ("With all due respect," Slack reportedly wrote, "I'm starting to wonder about our union leadership and whether we are going in the right direction.")

Broadly speaking, (dis)satisfaction with Guild leadership has correlated to age and job description, with younger journalists the most likely to express frustration. On April 10, an e-mail from Guild head Daniel Totten seemed to implicitly recognize this friction between the union's journalists and non-journalists: Totten praised the Guild's newsroom members as "some of the most skilled and intelligent communicators in the industry," and said that their assistance would be vital as the Guild worked to make its case to the public.

Judging from a recent meeting of the Guild's membership, though — also held on April 23, hours after Baron gave his South Boston speech — the union still has some serious cohesion problems. Two factions went at it that night in Dorchester: critics (mostly from the newsroom) who accused Guild leadership of being unresponsive to members, and union defenders (mostly not from the newsroom) who accused the critics of weakening the Guild.

One major point of disagreement: whether the Guild has paid sufficient attention, or any attention at all, to the surveys it distributed on April 13, asking its members what they would and wouldn't be willing to give up. As a reporter noted at the April 23 meeting, Totten had seemed to rule out certain concessions — including, apparently, changes to the paper's seniority structure and the elimination of the lifetime-job guarantees some members possess — in a public statement he made before the results could possibly have been tabulated. This, the reporter said, suggested that Guild leadership might not actually care what the surveys said.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |   next >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Media, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Journalism,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY ADAM REILLY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BULLY FOR BU!  |  March 12, 2010
    After six years at the Phoenix , I recently got my first pre-emptive libel threat. It came, most unexpectedly, from an investigative reporter. And beyond the fact that this struck me as a blatant attempt at intimidation, it demonstrated how tricky journalism's new, collaboration-driven future could be.
  •   STOP THE QUINN-SANITY!  |  March 03, 2010
    The year is still young, but when the time comes to look back at 2010's media lowlights, the embarrassing demise of Sally Quinn's Washington Post column, "The Party," will almost certainly rank near the top of the list.
  •   RIGHT CLICK  |  February 19, 2010
    Back in February 2007, a few months after a political neophyte named Deval Patrick cruised to victory in the Massachusetts governor's race with help from a political blog named Blue Mass Group (BMG) — which whipped up pro-Patrick sentiment while aggressively rebutting the governor-to-be's critics — I sized up a recent conservative entry in the local blogosphere.
  •   RANSOM NOTES  |  February 12, 2010
    While reporting from Afghanistan two years ago, David Rohde became, for the second time in his career, an unwilling participant rather than an observer. On October 29, 1995, Rohde had been arrested by Bosnian Serbs. And then in November 2008, Rohde and two Afghan colleagues were en route to an interview with a Taliban commander when they were kidnapped.
  •   POOR RECEPTION  |  February 08, 2010
    The right loves to rant against the "liberal-media elite," but there's one key media sector where the conservative id reigns supreme: talk radio.

 See all articles by: ADAM REILLY