Digital journalism guerrilla heads for Hub

New York Times media critic David Carr spends his days sifting through the wreckage, and the opportunity, that digital journalism has created. Now he’s coming to Boston to sort through how news organizations survive, and thrive, in a time of thoroughly broken revenue models.

The Globe  reports today that Carr will join Boston University ’s College of Communication in the spring, in a chair the paper describes as being “dedicated to exploring creative business models to support journalism in the digital era.” Carr will teach one course per semester at BU, and participate in public events. He will spend two days per week in Boston, on top of writing his regular Times column.

Andy Lack , the Bloomberg executive and university trustee who helped fund Carr’s professorship, tells the Globe that he and the college’s dean initially wanted to hire “the person that David Carr would know to call when he was doing a story about where’s the direction of journalism going to be, somebody who would be on David Carr’s speed dial.” That person wound up being Carr himself. “I kind of see myself in the mold of a guerrilla fighting from the hills,” Carr tells the Globe . “I do think the institutional aggression and the amount of ambition that they have there is a fit with how I run my show.”

Carr takes the professorship at a time when the only sure thing about the media landscape is that its traditional financial structure collapsed long ago. Digital media has made reporting immediate and widely impactful; it has also made the news far more challenging to fund. The only certainty on the business side of the news is the necessity of finding a new revenue model that pays for it.

Jeff Bezos , the Amazon founder who recently paid $250 million in cash for the Washington Post , has admitted that he has no idea how the Post will sustain itself financially. In September, he said he was sure that advertising and paywalls alone couldn’t support a large, modern newspaper. Bezos said he didn’t know where else to go for money to pay for the news; he sees his role at the Post as having the patience to not make money for a time, while the Post figures out a way to sustain itself long-term.

John Henry , who bought the Globe at the same time Bezos took over the Post , has struck a similar stance. In a recent Globe op-ed column , Henry said he discovered a “maddening irony” in considering his purchase. “ The Boston Globe , through the paper and its website, had more readers than at any time in its history,” he wrote. “But journalism’s business model had become fundamentally flawed. Readers were flocking from the papers to the Internet, consuming expensive journalism for free. On the advertising front, print dollars were giving way to digital dimes.” Henry cast his involvement with the paper as a stewardship, rather than an ownership.

The local upheaval hasn’t just been on Morrissey Boulevard. The Globe and Herald have both shed pages, and reporters, over the last several years. The Phoenix took a run at jumping from alternative weekly to glossy magazine, ran out of money, and folded . At the same time, the same internet that drained money out of the Globe , Herald and Phoenix has enabled other organizations to expand their reach and reinvent themselves. Boston’s two nonprofit broadcasters, WBUR and WGBH , have made big pushes into online reporting. The website of the Springfield Republican has expanded to report on Boston. has stepped into the void that the Phoenix created, and launched an online radio station and a companion arts and culture website . The Herald and the Dig both have their own internet radio ventures. Tons of journalism is happening. It just needs some money behind it.




Deloitte Consulting has won at least $330 million in state contracts over the last decade, the Globe reports, despite “serious and costly” problems with some of its IT work.


Marty Walsh  gets a lesson from Tom Menino in how to avoid becoming Michael Bilandic .

A Herald editorial criticizes a bid by Frank Baker and Bill Linehan , whom the paper calls “two of the lesser lights on the [Boston] City Council,” to weaken the mayor’s grip on the school committee. Linehan looks set to take the council presidency in January, with his seventh and deciding vote coming from newcomer Michelle Wu .

Brookline tries to relieve crowding in its schools by evicting families whose homes straddle the municipal boundary.


Sen. Edward Markey released documents showing cellphone service providers in the country were paid more than $25 million by law enforcement for handing over user information. National security snoops have also infiltrated the online fantasy game World of Warcraft , looking for terrorists.

The US government sells the remainder of its shares in General Motors and takes a $10 billion loss on its $49.5 billion bailout, the Detroit News  reports .

The White House brings on former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta as a senior adviser.

The long-awaited silver tsunami in government employment is here, Governing  reports . Here’s what one state agency in Massachusetts is doing to deal with the exodus of older workers.


Today’s Fifth Congressional District special election is likely to see very low turnout, according to Secretary of State William Galvin. CommonWealth profiled the Democratic candidate state Sen. Katherine Clark and Republican candidate Frank Addivinola , a Boston attorney.


Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy , Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, and Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash back a casino in Revere, the Sun reports . Driscoll lauds the regional economic impact the casino would have, the Salem News reports . Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo says the project will create 4,000 jobs, the Item  reports .

MGM Resorts receives the backing of the investigative arm of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to operate a casino in Springfield as long as MGM can explain several concerns raised during a background check, the Associated Press reports .


A demolition company has filed paperwork to secure a lien for nonpayment of $1.9 million against the company overseeing the redevelopment of downtown Quincy . It’s the latest trouble for the firm which suspended construction on the $1.6 million project in October because of rising costs.

Paul McMorrow looks at downtown Worcester ’s latest comeback efforts.

For the second year, the Chronicle of Philanthropy is running an online tracking update for end-of-year giving , comparing this year to the last two years during a critical time for donations.

Federal regulators are set to crack down on big banks’ risky trading bets. The Wall Street Journal  notes that Wall Street is a far different place now than it was when regulators began writing the anti-betting rule named for former Fed chairman Paul Volcker .


A high-ranking official from the American Federation of Teachers tours the Lawrence schools,which have been taken over by the state. The official generally says nice things, but grumbles about how local teachers have been without a contract for 1,000 days, the Eagle-Tribune reports .

Students in Quincy and Braintree tried to finagle a day off yesterday with a half-inch of snow on the ground by retweeting official school closing announcements from last year. #didntwork .


Paul Levy highlights a nonprofit startup by MIT graduates who have developed a new form of treatment using feces for the growing incidence ofbacterial infections in hospitals.They’re looking, in Levy’s words, to become “#1 in the #2 business.”

Another day, another medical-focused start-up launched by MIT’s Robert Langer .


New York ’s transit system writes late notes for tardy commuters.


Independent coastal experts say FEMA used outdated methodology more suited for the Pacific coast in determining the new controversial flood maps for Massachusetts.

Massachusetts and a handful of other states in the Northeast petition the federal government to require upwind states to curb air pollution emissions, the Associated Press reports .

The Department of Environmental Protection gave the okay for a Brockton company to cap rather than clean a former landfill in Dartmouth, the first of four state permits the company needs to proceed.

More evidence emerges that there may once have been life on Mars .


While many have been gushing over Pope Francis and his liberalizing ways, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin  is not among them .


A drug court, the state’s 19th, is coming to Lowell next year, the Sun reports.

A Berkley man was arrested and charged after he allegedly shot and killed a deer while sitting in his pick-up truck at a Fall River intersection, a violation of state hunting laws.