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Wanted: friendly advice for the Globe

In today's memo announcing the elimination of up to 50 newsroom jobs, Globe editor Marty Baron makes it clear--as publisher Steve Ainsley did earlier this month--that the Globe of the future is still undefined:

Once again, we will have to assess everything we do. And so we will move promptly to evaluate a wide range of options. Not every option we review will come to pass, but reductions of this magnitude obviously will require us to make fundamental changes. Your ideas are welcome [emph. added].

So here's my question: what "fundamental changes" would Globe readers urge the paper's brain trust to consider?

As you offer your suggestions, bear in mind that, based on today's announcement, the Globe is about to lose roughly 20 percent* of its newsroom staff--and that the Globe is hardly alone in its struggles.

*NOTE: The Globe's online roster (click on "newsroom staff," above) suggests that the newsroom has 244 employees. But according to this NYT story, the Globe newsroom has the equivalent of 433 full-time positions--which means the impending cuts would cut staffing levels by about 12 percent.

  • Ron Newman said:

    My advice?  Persuade the NYTimes Company to sell the Globe to a locally-run, non-profit trust.  Something like the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times.

    January 15, 2009 3:22 PM
  • Adam Reilly said:

    I like the idea, Ron--but who's going to put up the cash, with the economy gone to pot and the newspaper industry imploding?

    January 15, 2009 4:09 PM
  • Ron Newman said:

    If the paper's value keeps dropping, at some point the NYTimes would have to give it away.  Isn't the SPTimes doing reasonably well?

    January 15, 2009 5:26 PM
  • John Gatti Jr said:

    The daily carnage reports in the traditional newspaper industry shows no solution.

    The non profit model appears to one potential possible solution as being experimented in several venues.

    Employee Stock Ownership plans may be the for profit model.

    However, with the current credit crisis and lack of advertisers there appears little or few other options for the capital intensive print and broadcast industry.

    Technology, the internet, sattelite radio, and cable continue to change so rapidly that how can any longterm viable business plan be put together?

    All these problems in print and broadcast media only hurt the traditional press freedoms and investigative reporting we have come to expect as our right.

    January 15, 2009 9:03 PM
  • Carly Carioli said:

    No big mystery: cut the print edition by 60 percent. Look closely at the Euro metro commuter dailies and rip off their mix of byte-sized news and aggressive, mobile-enabled interactivity. Write for the internet first, bring back the "special edition" for investigative coups. Cut reporter/editor salaries from white collar to blue-collar level, which is where reporters' salaries used to be once upon a time (and where some of us still are). The ones who stick around will be locals as opposed to imports, and will be in it for the honest labor instead of the bogus faux-intellectual glory. Y'know, that gets an awful lot of traffic -- if it didn't have to prop up the Globe, it might be worth something.

    January 15, 2009 11:24 PM
  • Aaron Read said:

    Adam - who's got the cash?  I've been sayin' it for years: sell the Globe to Boston University.  (or maybe Harvard or Emerson)  Create a massive training ground for new talent AND provide a massive amount of free/cheap labor and talent.  I am well aware of the quality of students' work vs. the quality of professionals, but I am also well aware that there's almost always at least a handful of students that are incredibly good; better than some longtime pros.  It can be structured to all "balance out".

    Would it require a large capital outlay?  Yes.  Aren't Universities' endowments hurting "badly"?  Yes, but take it with context...Harvard's endowment is still well over $28 BILLION dollars.  BU's endowment is projected to drop 30% this fiscal year...that's still in the $600 MILLION dollar range.

    The Globe was just valued at a mere $20 million not a month ago.  That's not exactly chump change, but it's do-able.  And think of the prestige that would buy.  More importantly, think about the potential for fundraising!  What BU journalism alum...and there are many, many, MANY of them...wouldn't want to say that their college owned the frickin' GLOBE?!?  I mean, this goes a long way towards addressing BU's perennial inferiority complex.

    And it's not like BU doesn't already have a major news institution (WBUR) under its aegis and does a fine job maintaining objectivity and independence.

    January 16, 2009 8:37
  • Lissa Harris said:

    Oh God. Not that there are any better ideas out there, Aaron, but have you read this? A hint of the Globe that could be.

    I miss the Concerned Terrier, alas now graduated.

    January 16, 2009 10:22
  • Guy On the Sidelines said:

    Aaron makes and interesting point about University Journalism students contributing to the Boston Globe and lessening the financial burden.

    I think that the 20 Million value for the Globe was actually thought to be a typo and some of the other media pundits in town have suggested a 200 million number. Regardless, an interesting idea, which I think someone beat you to!!!

    Check this out.  //

    January 16, 2009 11:24
  • O-FISH-L said:

    The Globe should experiment by limiting the ultra-liberal slant of news stories and editorials to something like 75-85% instead of the current 95%+.  There are tens of thousands of Herald readers frustrated by the continued presence of Eagan and Gelzinis, not to mention the Herald's endorsement of Nikki Tsongas a couple of years back and the most recent attack pieces on Governor Palin.  The Globe has better sports and other features, if the news and ediotrial page was only somewhat tolerable to moderates and conservatives, the Herald would be out of business.  I've canceled my home delivery of the Herald and reluctantly keep it at my business for customers.  That said, I'm probably unintentionally setting myself up for a joke here, but almost every blue collar bar, diner, barbershop etc. in the metro area subscribes to the Herald.  Should the Globe become less rigid in ideology, perhaps they take over that niche as well.  Craislist, while a serious blow to the health of newspapers, is hardly the only terminal affliction.  

    January 18, 2009 10:29 PM

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