Saturday, 2:15 PM
On the street, dismay and shock over the Globe's woes
By Maria Sacchetti and Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff
Long-time Boston Globe readers were stunned today that the New York Times Co. is threatening to close the newspaper unless the newspaper's unions accept $20 million in concessions, possibly including pay cuts and the loss of company contributions to employees' pensions.
“What’s going on?” said one reader, Daniel Doyle, 70, who was clutching a small coffee and a doughnut outside of Verna’s Donuts in Cambridge. He has read the newspaper every day for 40 years. “The Globe is the biggest paper going. How can they lose so much money when they’re the No. 1 newspaper in Massachusetts?”
He called the Globe a Bay State institution “like John F. Kennedy.”
“If you took the paper away and I can’t read sports, what am I getting up in the morning for?” he asked.
But another man at the doughnut shop shrugged in indifference.
“I don’t really read the Globe,” said 20-year-old Mike Spartichino, an electrician who prefers to watch TV news at dinnertime with his mother in Arlington. “It’s too big. I have to work and all that.”
Since the news broke, some critics of the Globe, writing anonymously on the boston.com website (see comments on this story below), have lambasted the paper for what they call its liberal bias. On the street in Boston and several other communities today, most people approached by Globe reporters said they were sorry to hear of the Globe's troubles.
Some people were critical and others said that with people on the go and getting their news from the Internet, the Globe was simply a victim of changing times.
Down Massachusetts Avenue at the Out of Town News newsstand in Harvard Square, Tommie W. Whitener, an attorney from San Francisco area, said the Globe's woes reminded him of the San Francisco Chronicle's financial problems.
"I think it's a damn shame. I think we've got to keep them alive as best we can. I don't know if they'll all survive. I hope they do. I like newspapers. I like to hold them and read them. They're an integral part of my life," he said.
Nishant Nayyar, 27, of Boston was picking up copies of the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. "I think it's kind of tragic, but unfortunately, that's where the newspaper industry is going, except for these two," he said.
Tony Butler, 50, raised in Boston but now a New York City resident, said he was "not particularly enamored with the Globe these days. I think it's a little too politically correct for my tastes. I mean, I generally consider myself a liberal but I think it goes a little too far."
"I would read the Times over the Boston Globe any day, it's just a better paper," said Butler, a New York Times reader.
Amy Mossman, 43, of Cambridge, said, "I'm very angry about it. I don't want to lose our local paper. I've been reading the Globe since I was a kid. It's the paper that covers all of my local events. It has a home here, it knows what goes on here."
At Breads 'n Bits of Ireland, a breakfast spot in downtown Melrose, the topic of the Globe's potential demise bounced from table to table in the cozy dining room.
"It'd be a tragedy if the Globe were to close," said Steven Locke, 45, a Melrose lawyer and father of two boys, who once was a Globe paperboy in Newton.
"Could you imagine our kids going through life not knowing what a paper is?" said his wife, Suzanne, who teaches at a Cambridge private school.
Still, the Lockes admitted, they don't get the paper every day. Mornings are consumed with getting the boys ready for school and rushing off to work, where Steven Locke reads boston.com.
"I'd pay five cents an article online," he offered.
Nearby, Jean Gorman spoke up for the print edition. "I want my newspaper in my hand," said Gorman, an office manager for a real estate firm. "I want a real paper."
From the next table, Eric Wildman chimed in, calling the Globe a "victim" of the success of its own free website. He used to subscribe daily but now pays only for the Sunday edition.
"Nobody has time in the morning anymore to get up and read the paper," said Wildman, 33, a human resources manager who learned about the possible closing of the Globe on the political blog BlueMassGroup.
John Cinella, a 69-year-old lawyer who rises at 5:30 a.m. to read the paper, said he cherished his daily paper, and a stack of memorable editions.
"I've got Globes from the Great Fire, all the Red Sox victories, the Patriots," said Cinella, whose three boys all once delivered the paper.
Fifth-grader Connor Locke piped up. "When Obama won, we saved the newspaper," the 11-year-old said. "And when Papi hit the 52 home runs, I framed that and I have it hanging on my wall."
His mother beamed.
"Can't frame the computer screen," she said.
At the opening of the Grove Hall branch library, Jeannette Sisco of Mattapan counted the ways the Globe has touched her life over the years. The long-time school librarian posts stories about her students on a "Wall of Fame" at the West Roxbury Education Complex. She sends articles to relatives around the country. She used to lead a "Friday night ritual" clipping coupons for three elderly uncles, all former Pullman railroad porters from the South End.
"It's a wonderful source of freebie-weebies in the city," said Sisco. "Every single day I look for book talks and artistic activities that can be engaged in for F-R-E-E. It’s going to be a real loss in these tough economic times."
In Woburn, every morning, retired maintenance man Ollie Gonsalves rises, gels back his hair, and heads to the Moore & Parker newsstand to buy his daily Globe. The clerks at the 115-year-old newsstand and smoke shop always save him a copy if the stack dwindles.
"The Globes run out quick here," said Gonsalves, 80.
He lingered today in Moore & Parker, under the old tin ceiling and near the pile of newspapers, and contemplated the end of the Globe with friend Paul DeVito.
"That's too bad they're going to close the Globe," said DeVito, 68, a car salesman.
"Tell me about it," said Gonsalves, who clips articles to mail to his sister in North Carolina, a Woburn transplant. "I won't read anymore."
Gonsalves said he likes the editorial page, which he said stands up for people like him: "I'm a little guy."
Harry McDonough III, another Woburn native, didn't share that view -- but wanted to hold fast to his Globe just the same.
"I'll tell you what, I'm a meat-eating, God-fearing, gun-toting, right-wing conservative white male, and proud to be that way," said McDonough, a 41-year-old hardware store manager. "But I do read the Globe to see how the other side thinks. That’s important. Knowledge is power.”
One civic leader expressed shock at the idea of a world without the Globe.
"To someone like me who's very involved in civic life in the communities, it’s unimaginable," said Paul S. Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation, calling the Globe the "civic glue" that keeps the public together. "Almost every leader in Boston -- in the public sector, the private sector and the nonprofit sector -- reads the Boston Globe every day. It gives the community a shared sense of what the issues are, what the challenges are ... I just don't see that being replaced."