The Globe’s deliverance
If a tree falls in the forest but it doesn’t get home-delivered, does it still make news?
Though the vast majority of people get their news through (not from, just to be clear on the source) the Internet these days, there’s still a hard-core corps of readers who prefer the dead-tree edition, especially on Sundays when they play the crossword puzzle, read long-form pieces, and soak in the week’s biggest Sports section.
And advertisers still like it as well, paying a higher premium for ad space on paper pages rather than fleeting screens and a little extra to stuff circulars in the Sunday delivery as well. And the cost of home delivery continues to provide a solid source of revenue for papers, even though the circulation numbers, in the case of the Boston Globe, have dropped to one-fifth of their highest point.
But armed with that knowledge, why then would Globe owner John Henry mess with the delivery service, causing disruptions to the paper’s most loyal readers and threatening to evaporate what little base of ink-stained readers remain? Good question but, apparently, even the Globe‘s own reporters, who were out in force delivering their own stories Sunday morning, have been unable to answer it.
Sheehan says ACI mentioned the potential of disruptions but not to the 10 percent level that has been seen, meaning about 10,000 subscribers on weekdays and 20,000 on Sunday were not getting their papers. But ACI president Jack Klunder insists his firm told the Globe to expect widespread chaos and to be prepared for the blowback and social media flaming.
And in one of the more eye-opening statements, Klunder says he expects to have normal operations back in four to six months. With this kind of outrage after four to six days, will there be anyone left to assuage at that time?
Amid the din of outrage – not to mention their stories weren’t being read by everyone, the biggest sin of all – reporters, editors, mailroom employees, office staff, and sales and circulation representatives hit the Globe‘s three distribution offices around midnight Saturday to stuff Sunday papers and circulars in bags and take off for uncovered delivery routes across eastern Massachusetts. The story went national – reporters delivering the stories they had written just several hours earlier – and while it was a mixed public relations bag, it brought on a new appreciation for the last mile by those ink-stained wretches.
“They gave us 273 papers and handed us a delivery route that appeared to have been prepared by someone under the influence of methamphetamine,” wrote Kevin Cullen, who took a route in Hingham joined by columnist Bella English and Crux editor Teresa Hanafin. “The route wasn’t circuitous. It was circus. If you handed an Etch-a-Sketch to a really drunk guy and told him to turn the knobs, that’s what our route would look like.”
The Twitterverse lit up over the stunt but since it was a one-time play, with ACI still about 150 drivers short, what happens this week? Or next Sunday? Will the people who write the news still deliver it?
Many millennials, having long ago forsaken print, if indeed they ever truly embraced it, are showing little sympathy for those who remain loyal to the tactile need for news. Many of those subscribers are averse to digital, mostly because they’re older and either shun technology or just want the paper because that’s how they always read it.
But therein lies the Globe‘s dilemma. That group of readers will not be replaced like they replaced their parents and their grandparents. So the trick is trying to balance their needs with the transition to online. And trying to save some money.
“This new home delivery system sure saves John Henry money!” Ferson tweeted. “Hope he uses it for better pitching!”
— JACK SULLIVAN
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The state Department of Conservation and Recreation offers free long-term leases to anyone willing to fix up two historic buildings in the Upton State Forest. (Telegram & Gazette)
A Herald editorial pans efforts by an abortion-rights group to get Baker to lobby the US Department of Justice to begin labelling attacks on clinics providing abortion services “domestic terrorism.”
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WBUR tallies up where the state stands on its casino gambling venture as of the end of 2015.
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The Heritage Foundation offers its (conservative) take on the 10 worst government regulations of 2015. (Eagle-Tribune)
The Herald dubs as “the new normal” worries among young people about terrorism.
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A Globe editorial decries the frequency with which Massachusetts voters are faced with special elections to fill seats vacated midterm.
Raytheon has stumbled badly in its project designed to upgrade the equipment that drives the Global Positioning System. (Boston Globe)
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An Item editorial praises the behavioral health unit at the Lynn Police Department for treating addicts as people with health problems rather than as criminals.
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