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Ainsley to Globe: "We have to succeed"

There's no bad news in the note that Boston Globe publisher Steve Ainsley sent to the paper's employees yesterday. But there's not really any good news, either.

Here's the Cliffs Notes version: we're going to figure out how to make the Globe work as a business proposition, because there's really no other choice.

Or, as Ainsley put it:

Dear Colleagues,

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays.  To those who took some deserved time off, welcome back, and to those who worked right through the season, thank you.

It would be nice to say that the new year looks like a happy one for our business, but you know differently.  Nonetheless, I’m sure we will have any accomplishments to be proud of over the next 12 months, including meaningful progress toward stabilizing the business for the long term.

Many of you have heard me say I am not a fan of business books, save one. In Good to Great author Jim Collins dispensed some advice that may be useful in thinking about how to approach the new year: “Confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith.”

Yes, we all know it’s brutal out there.  But, have faith in our abilities and our mission.  To put it in sloganese - we've got to believe to succeed.

We are going to succeed.  The solutions may not be obvious, but working together we will create them.  Our journalism will continue to inform, safeguard, and entertain Bostonians for a long time to come.  We will create a new business model that is sustainable for the long term.

We have to succeed.  Who else is going to do the hard reporting that uncovers corruption and abuse of power?  Who else will provide high quality and comprehensive coverage of arts, culture, sports, and business?  Who but us can and will consistently and intelligently raise the awareness of important issues facing the region – give voice to the less than powerful?

I know I’m preaching to the choir.  Your resiliency and determination are forever evident.  It seems that everyone is asking the right questions, taking the right actions, and working together.  We’re all pushing ahead, winning small and large victories, listening to our customers and responding.

We’ve done a remarkable job at building traffic and engagement for and now we’re working on new ways of generating a larger revenue base.  For The Boston Globe, we’re focusing on the information needs of our core audience in order to minimize circulation losses and advertising evenue. We’re developing new products that add to the bottom line and
speak to new audiences.

Based on what I observe and what I know about the people who work here, we will succeed using ingenuity, good sense, collaboration, and grit.

Thank you.


  • A fellow print journalist said:

    "... we've got to believe to succeed." Wow, I've never heard a louder death knell. No, you have to have a good financial/business model. And the plain truth is that most newspapers just don't "get it" financially and are still trying to run their papers as if they have a monopoly on the print news market and the print advertising market. As a result, they're ego-centric, ignore their readers wishes, spend too much time writing stories that too few people read, treat advertisers badly, etc, etc. Fortunately the Web is bringing all that mistreatement to an end.

    January 9, 2009 1:19 PM
  • Ex-journo said:

    Like a cancer victim denying the inevitable end, the newspaper industry is on its death bed with blinders. Daily print editions do not work. Period.

    So get over it and move on. The sooner the better for all those poor news folks about to lose their jobs.

    Thank God for At least they have the beating pulse of the region.

    January 9, 2009 1:40 PM
  • We’d Now Like to Say a Few Nice Things About the Globe | Boston Daily said:

    Pingback from  We’d Now Like to Say a Few Nice Things About the Globe | Boston Daily

    January 9, 2009 3:56 PM
  • Phogg said:

    "Journalism" professionals STILL can not Identify their competition.

    If you have an automotive engineer who writes an insightful three page description of an engine his team is developing every three years, that used to not be a problem. Even though it was just as well written as someone with a journalism or English degree might write.

    It was one article every three years that only the man's friends were likely to see. If they shared it, well a few xerox copies mailed around still don't reach that many people even if it pyramids out seven times and by the time the last group gets it it will be a month later if they were being mailed.

    Fast foreword to now.

    There are thousands of engineers. Every 1095 of them writing once every three years equal one story a day. Written, generally, for free. As in costs no money. As in they are writing for their own vanity.

    And on the web, writing in interest forums, or having those forums available as a place their friends might send the article - it will be seen.

    Extend this out to other interests, because it carries over across the board.

    Journalists keep looking at the picture trying to figure out how content producers are going to be paid in the new media.

    The stopper is that they have to compete with people who write about any given subject as well or better than they possibly can WHO DON'T EXPECT TO BE PAID.

    When the internet arrived and provided a means for people to disseminate their writings, this became inevitable. I saw it, Drudge saw it, hundreds and hundreds of people saw and have been discussing it for over a decade.

    The dinosaur media is late to the party.

    January 9, 2009 4:27 PM
  • Daily Intel said:

    Unrelated … or are they?

    January 9, 2009 5:45 PM
  • Carly Carioli said:

    Well, as long as everyone's on the bus -- and they're in the right seat -- I'm sure everyone over there will be fine.

    January 10, 2009 10:28 AM
  • John Gatti Jr said:

    I want the Boston Globe and its sister Massachusetts paper Worcester Telegram to succeed.  A free press and our press freedoms must survive.

    However, they must stabilize and improve their objectivity and access to all viewpoints.

    January 10, 2009 8:37 PM
  • aging cynic said:

    To John Gatti: when you don't take ownership of the results of your actions, failure isn't really all that bad. The level of intellectual dishonesty is such that the "objectivity" ship has sailed. I'm not sure Renee Loth & Co. even understand the depths of their alienation from their "customers". It has been a long time since they wrote for anyone but themselves.

    January 10, 2009 10:43 PM
  • J. Jones said:

    Publisher Ainsley's comments are heavy on the cliches and "I wish I may I wish I mights." If he were my publisher I would be disturbed by the anemic vagueries and lackluster rah-rahs.

    Who has their ear to the ground? Who is watching the horizon?

    A man who is not a fan of business books, is not a man with an open mind. It's nice, however,that he has a favorite book. His employees can only hope that it has all the answers that they will all need over the many months ahead.

    January 16, 2009 6:53 PM

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