Boston.com jumps into ticket scalping
The lab’s story focuses most of its attention on the evolution of Boston.com into an e-commerce portal now that BostonGlobe.com has been spun off as a separate newspaper website. (Boston.com still carries the Globe’s sports coverage and a limited number of Globe stories.)
“What’s interesting about Boston.com’s approach is that it’s enabled in part by the separation of the newspaper brand,” the lab reports. “Making BostonGlobe.com the primary home for newspaper-style journalism and reporting has left Boston.com to further explore its role as a pageview-hungry website – one that can try out revenue ideas that some newspaper brands might not be okay with, just as it presents a mix of content that wouldn’t be a perfect fit for the more serious BostonGlobe.com.”
Jeff Moriarty, vice president of digital products for the Globe, is quoted as saying Boston.com didn’t want to blur the line between commerce and journalism, but it did want to make it possible for people reading about this weekend’s Patriots-Ravens showdown on the website to click and buy tickets to the game.
What the Nieman Journalism Lab story neglects to mention is that the tickets are often being resold at steep markups, markups that are technically illegal under Massachusetts law. The state’s antiscalping law bars the resale of tickets for more than $2 above face value, but the law’s wording is so vague and contains so many loopholes that it has become unenforceable and widely ignored.
Boston.com’s push into the ticket resale business with Ace is full of irony because the Globe broke the story about Ace hiring a close friend of former Speaker Sal DiMasi to help push a bill doing away with the state’s cap on ticket resale markups through the Legislature.
The ticket legislation, which passed the House and later stalled in the Senate, became the initial focus of a series of Globe stories about influence peddling on Beacon Hill involving DiMasi. DiMasi was later convicted and sentenced to eight years in federal prison for taking part in a conspiracy to help a software company win state contracts in exchange for kickbacks.
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