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.



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