A financial future for the Globe online?

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    A financial future for the Globe online?

    We were subscribers to the printed Globe for about 40 years, so we remember the tattered rag of the early 1960s, the all-time champion editor Tom Winship, and the steady decline after he retired. The NY Times bought the Globe a few years later, apparently not seeing that Mr. Winship had been the main asset.

    The Globe now wants $208/year for basic online access to its slender news product. Most readers who might be interested will also be considering or already paying for basic online access to the NY Times at $195/year, the Wall Street Journal at $104/year, the Economist at $110/year or the Boston Business Journal at $59/year. The Washington Post and many sites with wire service articles remain available without fees.

    The Times content well surpasses the Globe at the height of Tom Winships's tenure, 1965-1984. Since then the Globe has dropped foreign, national and New England reportage, science, fine arts, environment and the many insightful local reporters it once employed. It has lost or laid off hundreds of talented people. NESN provides much the same sports news. The unique content is mainly opinion: a handful of columnists and editorial writers.

    With a much larger and a more talented set of columnists and editorial writers, from 2005 to 2007 the NY Times tried selling access to their content as TimesSelect for $49/year. That cost the Times more in expenses and lost Web advertising revenue than it brought in subscriber fees.

    The value proposition from the Globe appears out-of-line with pricing. Market value of the unique content is less than $49/year. Added value of business content is less than $59/year. There is only a little added value from other content, nearly all of which can be substituted without fees. At under $100/year, basic online access to the Globe might provide reasonable value, but at over $200/year, it looks like a poor bargain.

     
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  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    Productivity reading news online

    As of Tuesday, September 13, the online NY Times has removed its main-page news digest at the bottom of the page--in traditional print terms "below the fold"--providing instead rapid response from a left-hand sidebar with main-section links. This is good leverage of links, the chief advantage of electronic over print media.

    The new, slimmer online format works because the NY Times keeps its pages lightweight in sizes and especially in file counts, so that they transmit and display quickly.

    The paid-subscription online Globe has a clumsy headbar feature as well as a bulky but uninformative news digest below the fold. They look nifty at first but are expensive for the Globe to maintain and much less productive for readers.

    Among other things, the Times has to police efficiencies of ad displays. The Times also performs well with both older browsers like Internet Explorer 6 and newer ones like Chrome. The Globe continues to puff out video even after readers disable compatible media players in the interest of productivity.

    No other sophisticated Internet news site achieves the readability of the NY Times. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the Huffington Post and the Washington Post's new online format begun last March 13. Both clutter pages with dead weight, yielding a glacial pace and a stuttering display. This reader abandoned them, even though they have useful content and do not charge subscription fees.

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from lucysandini. Show lucysandini's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    use firefox with the adblock ad on. I haven't considered ads when choosing what sites to visit for years. once in a while something won't look or work right but a simple click disables this feature.
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    Thank you, AppDev, for starting this discussion, and for your insight and informative additions.  There was no place for comments following the Globe's various announcements -- a web version of "The invisible hand writes, and having written, moves on".  So I was about to start a conversation here.

    I shall buy the Boston Sunday Globe and continue to consult boston.com the rest of Sunday and the week.  How can the new Boston Globe Online be THAT much better?  Sooner?  More information?  This would not be wise.  The worst strategic fault with this initiative is that the Globe will compete with itself more than any other competitor.  What happens when an entity competes with itself?  In this case, it can only be a "destructive experiment".  The coin of the realm in which the Globe operates is advertising, for better and for worse -- vastly more than subscription revenue.  Where the new right hand is out to beat the left one (NO political overtone intended), and the new right hand already has the brake on, as an advertiser, which vehicle (boiled down: clicks) will I prefer? 

    As the old saying goes, "You get a hunch and bet a bunch..."  I think of New Coke.  There are many other news and commentary outlets, and business schools.  There is a bigger story and a case study begging to unfold, not unlike the following (only one of the first found in Google):

    http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/newcoke.asp

    So, directly to The Globe:  Who have you listened to?  More to this in a later post.

    (And, separately, lucysandini is absolutely right.  Took this old dog a while to trust shifting over to Firefox, but it is eminently trustworthy and effective in blocking the ads -- and a lot of other hazards to navigation.)
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    This will be a suggestion that I shall wish I had a meter on, because if it is followed and successful - and I am confident that it would be successful - it's worth a lot of money:  Create a content- and participant-rich environment that you brand.

    Up front, another analogy:  The town in California in which I grew up recently installed new classic-looking black parking meters.  They look very smart (in a hitching-post sort of way) and the city, or more likely the meter company, boasted of them in local and regional media.  But they are still parking meters.  As anyone in Boston can see, the state of the art already is the single stand per block that allows payment in various ways for any amount of time.

    I suggest that if The Globe is to pursue the current path, it is stuck.

    My daughter-in-law is brilliant (...sorry).  She is 25 and in charge of outreach for a large, well-funded not-for-profit in California.  She is well-versed in all things related in cyber.  This is the first take-away for my point.  But it's not her work that she wanted to tell me about. 

    It was about a "news outlet" - sort of - that's growing like a weed in her city.  She calls it a content- and participant-rich environment in which participants post that something is happening - say, news is "breaking" - and others ask questions and add to the information - now written, will include more and more photos as participants help build the site - right on their hand-held smart devices.  Think of a traffic collision, or any newsworthy event.  "The Blue Line is buses from Maverick out."  What's going on up ahead?  People are attracted like moths to light.  Beyond Twitter.  More info than Twitter.  Dependable Twitter.  She and I suggest that this is the future of news.  And I may be behind the times here, but I don't know of an "ad-block" for smart phones ...though there probably will be one as soon as there are ads for them. 

    I would further add that I travel on planes a lot, and while this isn't good statistics, around school break time, the awake young people are all working their hand-held devices - and not even laptops - via the wifi.

    So, The Globe is already steps behind what is already happening in its field, and its senior executive ironically betrays its lack of self awareness by not even opening discussion of its initiative right at the get-go.

    Again, who is it listening to?

    I buried the lead.  It must be "a PARTICIPANT- and content-rich environment," in that order.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    A shrinking product

    A key problem for the Globe in retaining readers is a shrinking product. Contractions began in the middle 1980s, well before the age of Internet. After Wilfred Rodgers retired in 1984, the Globe, which had run regular labor reporting since the nineteenth century, dropped its labor news feature and never again had regular labor reporting. Some of the more vigorous reporters on health-care issues during the 1970s left the paper, and the remaining reporters turned more often to politically driven topics.

    The Globe's overt promotion in its news articles of the Dukakis-era universal health-care program of 1988, which ended in 1991, would not have occurred while Mr. Winship was editor. Another of the Globe's early maneuvers was to fire local delivery agents and their newsboys, who had delivered the paper for more than 100 years. People did not take kindly to that. The paper lost many subscribers and a much larger share of loyalty. By destroying its network of local delivery, the Globe became an anonymous business.

    In recent decades the Globe has cut back its advertising-related reportage, notably Food and Real Estate, as groceries turned increasingly to flyers and realtors turned increasingly to the Internet. Former real estate and business reporter Jerry Ackerman, who produced the Lots and Blocks column, left in 2002, and since then the Globe has had no sustained and knowledgeable reporting about real estate. Business reporting at the Globe has become mostly a matter of names, dates and press releases. Loss of Peter Howe as a business reporter in 2008 truncated the Globe's knowledgeable coverage of energy, transportation and public works.

    In the last two decades, the Globe has tried, fitfully, to produce science, technology and environment reporting. The reorganized online edition starting September 12, 2011, erased the science and the environment ("green") sections. The Globe failed to retain as regular reporters Pulitzer Prize-winners Bill Dedman, a former NY Times reporter who has gone to MSNBC, and Gareth Cook, who has become a correspondent. Carolyn Johnson, a recent science hire, now appears on business pages. Hiawatha Bray continues to write on computer technology, but full articles have become rare. Articles by Beth Daley, a long-time environmental reporter, stopped appearing after July, 2011.

    Health-care reporting remains a regular feature, but regular staff is down to recent hires Deborah Kotz and Chelsea Conaboy, and the vigor shown in years past has ebbed. Much of the coverage has turned to diet, exercise and social topics. There is much ahead with state initiatives to reduce costs and federal government plans to expand coverage. However, in recent workup of state cost-control, almost all the usual reporter, Liz Kowalczyk, could come up with was statements from state officials, mostly JudyAnn Bigby, the secretary of Health and Human Services. There are many knowledgeable people in the Boston area, but their expertise was never called on.

     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    At risk of this sounding like Waiting for Godot, discussants engaging in parallel conversations, I'd ask to take the concept I advanced above a step further.

    If the model is followed, it's going to take a different type of person - at least a different skill set - than that traditionally sought for the role of "reporter".  It's going to take a people person.  Yes, reporters always have had to be people-persons, and think of themselves that way, but it's usually in the role of pursuer.  How do I fit the person I'm pursuing?  Here, it would be someone capable of INTERacting with one's audience -- comfortable in the two-way street, and with iteration.  A reflection of the old saw, "Every story has two sides".  Which is really a rather dismissive way of expressing the more apt, "Every story has more than one side" -- more than two-way.  Moreover, it's going to be a person comfortable with being questioned back about what's going on with a story and how it's evolving ...and challenged ...even criticized.  And coming back with more.  We see the early indications of this in bloggers, at least the effective ones.

    And editors are either going to have to "let it ride" - not getting their way with the moral of a story - or remain defiantly polemical (the Murdoch&Ailes model), or, deftly, both.

    I advance this here because in virtually all the articles and commentary that we see in boston.com (and most of today's newspapers' websites that invite response), it's still something like the "seagull" m.o.: The writer deposits the piece and - even if it's controversial or demonstrably factually inaccurate - leaves, not to be seen until the next piece.  To be sure, in most cases, s/he's originally written the article for the print product.  But the m.o. is baked in, I suggest.  Just watch boston.com, and probably the new site.  Again, take the announcement of the new website as an example.  These are markers for how far the Globe ought to be reconceiving itself to interest tomorrow's participants -- perhaps even those who are out there now, who are looking for something kind of like the Globe.

    The Globe already has a competitive advantage.

    One more analogy:  More than a couple of decades ago, I helped write a case study about a professional school's acquisition of a new computer.  We dogged the principal person around as she asked faculty, staff and students what their needs were. The school purchased a Wang.  It was beautiful, the equivalent in many ways of a brand new aerial ladder fire truck.  You can write the rest of the case, though we thought it was finished when we left.

    But please keep The Sunday Globe, the flagship, at least until my generation is babbling more than hereabove.  Laughing
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from topaz978. Show topaz978's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    My two c. Since digital transition for TV cut off my reception of all major networks out of boston or hartford. This site has been a touchstone. Boston.com obviously cannot pay for its web by the ads. I cannot get any regional news via sattelite (not within the defined market area). So I am just the few forgottens who will not get an emergency warning via tv. And BDC will also be a resource for the folk who can pay a steep price for little content. It is that many people in central and western mass are already cutoff from acess to local media. This is just another nail in the coffin. We still have dialup out here you boston idiots.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    I've seen your name around here a lot.  Is that last word in your post how you are?  That sort of thing makes me think twice about playing here, and, I guess, my grand idea.  But that's probably not its greatest weakness.

    You're right that this play area is full of weak links.  FWIW, I live in Boston.  I got "the box" to convert the signal to my old analog TV, so I get mine over the air.  Free, and perhaps more reliable if everything goes to hell.  And I have dialup.  Mayor Menino started to campaign for city-wide free wifi, and then he stopped.  I've read that small towns and rural areas were more likely to get it sooner, but then that went away, too.  And we recently saw what a dropped wrench can do to the electricity for a 10,000 square mile area and several million people.

    Sorry for going OT.  This stuff may be weak links, but it won't stop the momentum.
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    Am I correct that 4G is the coming or current alternative where wifi doesn't reach?  Daughter-in-law isn't handy to ask.
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    Opportunities gone wanting

    Reader "Firewind" [9/15/2011 3:35 PM EDT] offered interesting observations on this topic, notably one cited here, advocating for "participants" to include reporters and editors as well as readers. Some reporters are already participants, but not usually through a "forum" or "comment" page, although it looks as though Globe columnist Brian McCrory might drop an occasional note that way.

    Some reporters at major news media will respond to e-mail messages. Now-departed Globe reporter Peter Howe and columnist Sam Allis were particularly apt to respond. A down-side may be that those two joined victims of the long financial crisis. The Huffington Post found some way to bridge the financial chasm, However, for about the past two years its pages have been so heavily loaded with deadweight as to become nearly unreadable.

    To get a quick picture of just how blind the pompous Globe managers have been to the potentials of electronic media, you need only look to the right. --- />

    Nothing there but empty space--gone wanting. For comparison, navigate to the NY Times, look for "Post a comment / Read" and click "Read." To the right you will often find a display ad, a few text ad-links and some links to NY Times articles: both more interesting and more money for the Times.

     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    Yes, there it isn't. 

    But, moreover, the concept's potential would be achieved if the author of a piece - reportage or commentary - would return at least once (for now, as the best next step) to the thread that s/he set in motion.  And if the Globe were to set itself on the path of working to establish, build and maintain a branded focus/community -- to be that place.  This is what the Globe should be striving for presently, and it will take building. 

    As to interacting, I would note that I've seen Mr. Jacoby on Twitter.  But the concept I'm advancing would have reporters and columnists on the Globe's site, under its own imprimatur, not another's.  And they'd really be interacting, not just depositing, which still is the prevailing m.o. of Twitter.  This will take enormous courage in reporters and trust in editors.  Leadership.  In ways in which the neither NY Times nor Ms. Huffington are leading yet.
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    AppDev brings up monetizing at the end of (9/16/11 9:31 AM EDT).  Still envisioning the portal to be The Globe on a hand-held, it should take no more than a five second ad prior to the content.  Or deals like Groupon Now that you have to exploit in the next few hours, and/or the area within a certain radius.  Gather up applicable and useful apps from the thousands that are out there.  Provide links.  All brought to you by The Globe.  The Go To Place for news and truly more.  Again, this would have to be built, as any enterprise or individual blog has to be built.  But again, this concept, planted where The Globe already is, would be born on second base.  The Globe already is the Go To Place when something happens.  Best, actually exploit and grow this franchise.  Worst, you now are ceding it.

    To The Globe: Throw the Hail Mary.  For security, you already have boston.com as a fall back (meaning the recently announced initiative is already seen as just a name change with a meter added) and you and all the tools exist.
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from massmoderateJoe. Show massmoderateJoe's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    The new Boston Globe online service is like Netflix's new qwikster service, it ain't going anywhere.  Once you give it away for free no one is going to pay as there are all kinds of alternatives.
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    News we can rely on?

    The Boston Globe apparently plans to charge readers for news from transportation reporter Eric Moskowitz. Will they get their money's worth? Mr. Moskowitz often lightly edits press releases for his stories these days, salting them with a few shakes of official-speak.

    A recent article claimed a transportation maintenance backlog of $15 billion but did not list any projects needed, tell anything about the state's financial resources, explain the state's priorities, if it has any, or tell readers how to find out. [ Tab for transit fixes soaring, Boston Globe, September 22, 2011, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/09/22/tab_for_massachusetts_transit_projects_soars_to_15b/ ]

    Mr. Moskowitz said officials at state agencies want to raise fares, fees and taxes. Left to their own airs, officials have wanted to do or done the same for decades. "One More Nickel"--we might recall--hardly news.

     
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  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    Listening right now to a fine program on "On Point" on WBUR about "crowdsourcing" and the news category of "emergent news".  Representatives of Huffington, Al Jazira (on being in the middle of the Iran and Egypt demonstrations) and the Annenberg School.  As always, advocates, challengers, pros, cons and nuances of the idea, but one thing that they seem to agree on is that it can't be held back. 
     
    When is it a modern feature of a mob, and when is it a trusted source?  The issue of rumor-mongering and "gaming" comes up.  A strong answer to such problems is "trusted sources".  Also the concept of "emerging communities" who, over time, grow to know whom to rely on.  And the idea of "the evolving journalist".

    Guess this is a lot of what I've been talking about:  The Globe acting on its franchise as a - the - trusted source, and building on it.  Building trust in this evolving milieu, so that when a big and evolving story happens, The Globe is that source.

    Sorry, the show does humble me when it illustrates how pie-in-the-sky my recommendations are vis a vis the complexity of the subject.

    The show is repeated in the evening, and I think, tomorrow (saturday) morning.  Oh, yes, also online.  (I am of the "older" generation, so I don't think of the latter place first.)
     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    In Response to Re: A financial future for the Globe online?:
    Would the Globe prefer 100,000 subscriptions @ $200/year or 10,000,000 subscribers at $49/year? At $200/year, that dog won't hunt.
    Posted by Bopanopawitz


    Won't hunt at any fee that The Globe can rely on as a revenue stream.

    "Advertising" ~ a la The Graduate's "Plastics".
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    An online business model?

    One reader calls Huffington Post a potential business model for the Globe online. The possibility seems remote, though. Although its scope has retreated in recent years, the Globe continues to collect and distribute "hard news" and needs paid reporters, editors and managers to do that. Huffington Post distributes "soft news," imbedded in the editorial writing of its columnists. Its one notable "hard news" specialty has been national politics, and while its success proved there was a market for its approach, that space is now taken.
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from topaz978. Show topaz978's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    If the model is to make money on the web then... I still get more of my local news off of yahoo. This forum is ok. If it goes away or whatever then I will not miss it much. I got over loseing 25 years of boston over the air TV. Sat tv sucks. What I don't get is why I have to get paid content to know what is going on in an emergency. It won't come here over the air except in spanish from worcester.
     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    Earning from the Web

    The Globe has been earning money from its Web site--just not enough to keep management happy. Web ads don't get the responses that print ads used to, so Web advertisers won't pay what newspapers charged. A full-color Globe page once cost over $15,000 but now is about $5,000 to $12,000 for one full run, depending on the day and placement. As print subscriptions shrank and big print advertisers dropped away, after the end of the 1990s boom, the Globe was unable to make ends meet. The NY Times company has been keeping it going at a cost as high as $50 million a year, but the Globe has to prosper again, or it will be auctioned.

    The Globe has taken an unusual approach in providing dual sites. The LA Times tried that a few years ago but gave it up after getting few subscribers to the paid site and losing advertising revenue on the open site. Like the Globe, the LA Times has conducted wholesale layoffs and buyouts over the past several years, and now it has no especially strong reporter on any topic. One of its few remaining, Thomas H. Maugh, II, a distinguished reporter on health, science and environment, retired last month.

     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    Not sure if a participant here may have conflated the information about the radio panel in which a Huffington representative participated and a value proposition discussed here.  That representative was not the advocate in that discussion about the topic of the day, crowd sourcing.  Rather, a third, or fourth, party commenter on the principal guest's value proposition.  Or perhaps I have not looked hard enough to see the Huffington model's case here.

    The Huffington model would seem to merit discussion here as it appears to be succeeding, in fact flying high, at present.  This observer is stunned to see what the very conservative AOL invited her to do to its "face" -- e.g., the opening pages to its email system, the linked commentary, and much more.  Is one remaining successful (as in, "last man standing") model where an entrepreneur lands a humongous benefactor?  The suggestion here, bolstered by the Murdoch&Ailes model as well, is, albeit painful, yes indeed.  Unless one, also legitimately, views AOL as a front for a large segment of the advertising industry, rather than as a benefactor per se. In which case it also becomes difficult to distinguish which is cart and which is horse.

    Still, the adverbial clause "at present" was inserted deliberately.
     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from AppDev. Show AppDev's posts

    No news is bad news

    Much local news in the Globe continues as police-gazette and press-release. Transportation news does not have to be that way, and with Noah Bierman, it wasn't. Eric Moskowitz started off with a surge in early 2011, but then he fell upon lazy ways. When Mr. Bierman reported on the MBTA maintenance backlog, it was with ample examples and financial data. [ MBTA: A system under strain, December 6, 2009 ] When Mr. Moskowitz took on the topic, he reported nothing but official-speak. [ Tab for transit fixes soaring, September 22, 2011 ]

    For another example, look at a story from Mr. Moskowitz about MBTA completing concrete crosstie replacements ahead of schedule on the Old Colony commuter rail lines to Middleborough, Plymouth and Scituate. [ Old Colony rail tie replacements to finish a year early, September 19, 2011 ]

    For background on the long-running Old Colony crosstie disaster, readers would have to look elsewhere. Last year, Jack Sullivan provided some of that background. [ Tracking the truth, Commonwealth, May 13, 2010, at http://www.commonwealthmagazine.org/Investigations/Online-Exclusives/2010/Spring/Tracking-the-truth.aspx ]

    Mr. Sullivan reported that through fall, 2009, MBTA was putting out an official line that only five percent of Old Colony crossties needed to be replaced--lying to the public. Rocla, the supplier of defective crossties, had told MBTA by spring, 2008, that all those it supplied were likely to fail. In 2004, MTA in New York had found a high rate of failure for Rocla crossties, and in 2006 MTA settled a lawsuit with Rocla.

    If 57 miles of timber crossties now cost about $46 million, why did MBTA not suspect a 1995 "bargain" price of about $9 million for supposedly more durable concrete? When timber crossties usually last about 30 years and good quality concrete crossties are expected to last about 50 years, why did MBTA specify a warranty for only 15 years? MBTA should have known that other transit systems were getting warranties for at least 25 years.

    Metro North and Amtrak, which also got defective concrete crossties from Rocla, have been replacing theirs with concrete crossties from other manufacturers. In 2010, why did MBTA decide on going back to timber crossties instead? Mr. Moskowitz? Hello? Mr. Moskowitz?

     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from Firewind. Show Firewind's posts

    Re: A financial future for the Globe online?

    As another example, even Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Smee's report of the MFA's treasure-for-treasure gambit was a virtual edit of their release, not even questioning by turn of phrase.*  In general - and this is quite apparent across the country - as seasoned reporters (who know their beat, or better, had a beat) are laid off and "replaced" by eager cub reporters, the hard questions also are replaced with naivete.  Such is apparent in reporters, but would a participant here know if this cubby loss of context is also at the editorial (supervisory) level nowadays?


    *  OK, Mr. Smee's been around, so maybe he had to shill it.
     
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