Globe stops shrinking

The Boston Globe, which has been steadily shrinking in size and scope for more than a decade, expanded on Friday, launching a special weekly section devoted to state, local, and national politics.

Called Capital, the section combines writing by existing staff members with polling and social media analysis by John Della Volpe’s Harvard Square firm SocialSphere Inc. The section is targeting advertisers interested in reaching political junkies as well as politicians and special interest groups trying to grab the attention of voters heading into an election season.

Today’s initial 12-page section includes three full-page ads for HumaneWatch.org, Mohegan Sun Massachusetts, and Steward Health Care, as well as a smaller front-page ad from Century Bank.

  

A coming-out party for the section was held Thursday night at the Paramount Theater, with billionaire Globe owner John Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti mingling with some of the city’s political intelligentsia, including former Boston mayors Tom Menino and Ray Flynn. The party also included a political panel discussion by five Globe writers and editors.

Mike Sheehan , the CEO of the Globe, said the new section is a clear signal of the direction in which Henry is taking the newspaper. “You cannot cut your way to success. You can only invest your way to success,” he said.

Henry bought the Globe, the Telegram & Gazette, the newspapers’ websites, and affiliated businesses from the New York Times Co. last October for $70 million. He sold the Telegram & Gazette last monthto Halifax Media Group of Florida for an undisclosed sum. At least 20 employees were laid off immediately.

Globe editor Brian McGrory called the new section “a major statement by the Globe” 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.

The section includes some substantive articles as well as some fluff. Perhaps the most unusual element is Della Volpe’s social media analysis and his “rolling polls,” featuring surveys of 300 voters each week on everything from the governor’s race to casino gambling. This week’s poll suggests the governor’s race is tightening, with Republican Charlie Baker trailing Attorney General Martha Coakley by five percentage points and ahead of Treasurer Steven Grossman by six points. The two independent candidates, Jeff McCormick and Evan Falchuk, garnered a combined 9 to 11 percent support

The advantage of a special section is that it provides a showcase for advertisers. The downside for readers is that resources that would normally be spread through the paper throughout the week will now be concentrated on Fridays. The big question is whether political coverage will be enhanced or merely stretched thin by the new section.

–BRUCE MOHL  

BEACON HILL

Population growth in the South Coast region lags behind the rest of the state, especially the boom areas of Boston and the immediate suburbs, and the state’s Gateway Cities are stagnant or even declining, according to new US Census data.

The Massachusetts Senate passes legislation tightening oversight of amusement parks, the Associated Press reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Globe‘s Andrea Estes reports that Suffolk Construction executive vice president Peter Welsh, the company’s prime fixer with the Menino administration for which he had previously worked, is out. In a story loaded with unnamed sources, she reports that the new Walsh administration sent a clear message that Welsh, who supported two of the new mayor’s rivals in last year’s election, was not welcome to ply his skid-greasing trade in City Hall.

Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan threatened there would be a municipal shutdown if the City Council fails to pass his fiscal 2015 budget but he was unable to tell the Herald News what the shutdown would entail.

Nine ideas win funding to refresh Boston public spaces, WBUR reports.

A Lawrence auxiliary cop is suspended from the force and ordered to turn in his assault weapon and 10 other guns after confronting a man at a convenience store, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Billing problems at the Lowell Regional Water Utility lead to the ouster of the executive director, the Sun reports.

CASINOS

MGM Resorts International, the sole contender for the Western Massachusetts license,  agrees to work on preserving sections of several historic buildings in Springfield.

RELIGION

A lawyer for the Worcester Diocese has asked a judge to dismiss a suit by a married gay couple, saying the church turned down their offer to buy a property for business reasons, not discrimination.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Andrew Bacevich offers a healthy dose of perspective and context on what he calls the “ever-advancing trivialization of American political life” in the “manufactured brouhaha” over the Benghazi episode in Libya and the case of recently-freed Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

A hedge fund manager tries controlling blight in Detroit with free-ranging goats.

ELECTIONS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher, who is affiliated with the tea party, is a plus for Charlie Baker as he tries to position himself as a moderate Republican in the race for governor, CommonWealth reports.

Steve Grossman takes shots at Democratic frontrunner Martha Coakley ahead of next week’s Democratic convention. Herald columnist Hillary Chabot wants Juliette Kayyem to amp it up. David Bernstein has the results of an internal Democratic delegate poll that shows Kayyem and Joe Avellone might struggle to make the party ballot next week.

Fresh questions emerged that could draw the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission about the penny stock company Scott Brown served as an adviser for until abruptly cutting his ties to the firm this week.

A University of Southern California study finds that voter ID laws are motivated by racial bias.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

President Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at graduation ceremonies for Worcester Vocational Technical High School next Wednesday and is planning to land Air Force One at the city’s regional airport, a symbolic boost for the facility looking to make a comeback.

Lawrence is adding jobs at a faster pace than the rest of the state, but its unemployment rate remains twice the statewide average, WBUR reports.

A battle is brewing between pro- and anti-union workers at the Hilton DoubleTree Suites hotel in Cambridge.

Verizon tells Netflix to stop blaming the phone giant for slow download speeds.

A new study finds that housing prices in the nation’s 100 largest cities were less volatile than last year and the same study shows that rents increased in many of the major markets because of high demand and low supply.

A controversial report by the Boston College Center of Wealth and Philanthropy estimates $58 trillion in wealth, including $6.3 trillion in charitable bequests, will change hands by the year 2061, a figure many researchers say vastly underestimates the movement of real estate, cash, and other assets..

EDUCATION

The Framingham superintendent supports the new PARCC assessment tests currently in a try-out phase, but teachers aren’t so sure.

HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts physicians are being told by federal Drug Enforcement Agency officials that they must sever any ties to medical marijuana dispensing companies or risk losing their medical licenses because of the conflict between state and federal laws on marijuana.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Greater Boston checks in on the status of the long-stalled Cape Wind project and Cape Wind president Jim Gordon says, once again, developers are poised to break ground.

Hull officials are opposed to the planned construction by the US Army Corps of Engineers of a 2,100-foot stone revetment along Nantasket Beach, saying the project would worsen rather than prevent erosion and take what little beach remains.

The Wall Street Journal spotlights infrastructure gaps in the effort to turn large quantities of food waste into fertilizer. Massachusetts and Connecticut have recently enacted mandatory food-composting regulations.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

A regional manager at the Probation Department testifies two of his bosses gave him the names of preferred job applicants who they wanted to see survive a local selection process and move on to final interviews at the commissioner’s office, CommonWealth reports.

A Brockton man convicted in a double murder in 1994 when he was 17 is the first killer granted parole in Massachusetts under a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole.