Globe cuts political losses

The print version of the Boston Globe cut its political losses today, abandoning its stand-alone Friday Capital section and tucking the slimmed-down remains into the back of Metro.

For those who read the paper online, the change may go unnoticed. But the political retreat in the print edition underscores the challenges facing Globe owner John Henry as he tries to find a solid business model for the newspaper.

When the new Capital section was launched last June, complete with a coming-out party for political insiders at the Paramount Theatre, the new section was hailed as a sign the Globe news hole had finally stopped shrinking and was growing again.

Globe editor Brian McGrory called the new section “a major statement by theGlobe” that Henry is willing to invest in the news while most other publications across the country are in full retreat in the face of declining ad revenues.

Mike Sheehan, the Globe’s ever-positive CEO, said the new section reflected his philosophy about the news business. “You cannot cut your way to success. You can only invest your way to success,” he said.

The section debuted in the midst of a busy election season with 12 pages, including 3 ¼ pages of ads. By December, with the election over, the section had shrunk to eight pages, with 1 ¼ pages of ads from a single advertiser — Steward Health Care. This morning the Capital subdivision within the Metro section had four pages of content and no ads.

No official explanation for the Capital retreat was given, aside from a note at the top of Metro announcing “a new home for Capital.” But Globe insiders say the reasons are fairly simple: tepid support from advertisers and clear pages that the paper’s political writers were struggling to fill each week.

The new stand-alone Business section now finds itself facing the same challenge. When the section launched in December, it had eight pages and 2 ½ of them were filled with ads. The ad content has fallen in recent weeks, however. Friday’s section contained a half-page of legal notices, which could be located anywhere in the paper, and 1 ½ pages of ads from the same advertiser that used to prop up the Capital section — Steward Health Care.

BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo finally announces his leadership choices, which reveal who’s in and who’s out, CommonWealth reports.

Some tension is surfacing between DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenbergas they jockey over pay hikes for committee chairs and the balance of power in the two chambers.

Stoughton Rep. Louis Kafka is again pushing assisted suicide legislation, theGloucester Times reports,

Not a great day for Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaunted new MBTA review commission, as the Globe’s Jim O’Sullivan reports that the man Baker tapped to chair the panel, Paul Barrett, tried to silence a West End activist opposed to a development project he was involved with by going to her employer. What’s more, it would have been hard to question Barrett face to face about the matter, as he is far from frozen switches snarling train lines, vacationing in Jamaica and missing the first meeting of the commission he is helming.

The MetroWest Daily News argues that the union campaign finance loophole needs to be closed.

Former attorney general Martha Coakley has filed to begin collecting a state pension with same boost to the payout that former public safety secretary Andrea Cabral put in for based on work as a prosecutor. The enhanced pension benefit, whatever one thinks of it, is not a loophole they are exploiting but rather a provision that was added explicitly for people who have served in those positions.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll is dissatisfied with the city’s trash hauler and withholding $35,000 from the contract until the problems are rectified, the Salem News reports.

Lynn looks to provide more access to its waterfront, the Item reports.

OLYMPICS

It turns out Mitt Romney, savior of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, has been providing lots of behind-the-scenes advice and encouragement to John Fish and the crew trying to bring the 2024 Summer Games to Boston.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

US Rep. Jim McGovern says he will not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, WBUR reports. The speech comes just before an Israeli election and as tension builds between Netanyahu and President Obama.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker so far is the shining star of the Conservative Political Action Conference. Chris Christie? Nova.

Thomas Schweich, the Missouri state auditor, committed suicide Thursday, according to police, just a month after announcing his Republican bid for governor. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he apparently shot himself after making some routine campaign calls to the media.

The FCC votes 3-2 to institute net neutrality, NPR reports. The agency also kills state measures prohibiting municipal broadband, Governing reports.

ELECTIONS

A group trying to prevent the recall of the Board of Selectmen in Saugus says many of the signatures on one of the recall petitions were forged, the Item reports.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

MassLive examines the final environmental impact report on MGM Springfield and finds some very unhappy abutters.

The appetite for biotech IPOs may be slowing.

EDUCATION

A bit of confusion surfaces over the credentials of Boston school superintendent finalist Guadalupe Guerrero, who was booted from his Harvard doctoral program because he had taken too long to complete his dissertation.

The record snowfalls that have triggered extended school closings have pushed the window for March MCAS testing back about a week for many districts.

Bentley University adjuncts vote to unionize, becoming the third campus of adjuncts in recent weeks to do so.

HEALTH CARE

A large number of enrollees returning to the health care exchanges shopped for and switched to different plans to save money or change coverage, a sign that bodes well for the future success of Obamacare, officials say.

Gov. Charlie Baker says his determination to “fix” the problems that have plagued state Health Connector is why he sought the resignation of four members of the panel’s board and wants to put his own people in the seats.

TRANSPORTATION

Keolis CEO: Je suis désolé.

CommonWealth contributor Jim Aloisi takes his list of transportation fixes to NECN. Check out the video and the original article.

Vote of no confidence: State transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack, longtime commuter rail rider, said she has resorted to driving to make sure she makes it on time to early-morning meetings with Gov. Charlie Baker.

Shirley Leung thinks members of the state transportation board of directors should throw in the towel and let Gov. Charlie Baker pick his own team.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A pump at the Fall River wastewater treatment plan failed, sending about 600,000 gallons of untreated effluent into Mount Hope Bay.

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter, without City Council approval, has signed an agreement with the owners of a controversial proposed power plant that will generate an estimated $82 million in revenue over the next 20 years for the city, a deal that ends the plant’s suit against the city.

Quincy residents and city officials, concerned about the environmental effects of dropping decaying sections into the harbor, unleashed their anger on a Boston representative at a public hearing over the demolition of the Long Island Bridge.

The state Appeals Court ruled Falmouth officials should have obtained a permit to erect a controversial wind turbine despite zoning bylaws that exempt town buildings from the permitting requirement.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

With the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Isabella Gardner Museum heist, former Boston Herald reporter Tom Mashberg recounts in the New York Times Magazine his 1997 film noir clandestine midnight encounter with what was alleged to have been some of the masterpieces. Mashberg also tosses some cold water on the upcoming book by former Globe investigative reporter Stephen Kurkjian about the thefts and revelations he says of whodunnit.

The Bristol District Attorney’s office has charged a Plainville woman, who was a juvenile at the time, with involuntary manslaughter in the suicide of a Fairhaven teen. Prosecutors say the young woman urged the boy via texts to go through with it rather than notifying his family members he needed help.

State Rep. Josh Cutler, a former newspaper editor and publisher, has filed a bill to ease restrictions in the domestic violence law that prohibit police from releasing information on domestic violence incidents on the daily logs.

MEDIA

“I am not a dingo,” and other observations on how Comedy Central’s John Oliver may have saved net neutrality.

The Internet goes crazy over the color of a dress, Time reports.

The Globe gets in on the Bill O’Reilly action, joining the string of reports that explain why the bombastic Fox News host is as likely to be bounced over challenges to his reporting record as Brian Williams is to ever return to the anchor chair at NBC.