Storm over Morrissey Boulevard: Globe doesn’t like NYT hardball

posted at 1:25 pm on April 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

My friend Gary Gross suspects a conspiracy.  The Boston Herald reports that the New York Times threat to shutter the Boston Globe has caused a “storm over Morrissey Boulevard,” where the Globe’s offices are located.  Has this blogger managed to undermine a Boston institution, albeit owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Paper of Record?

There’s a mutinous mood on Morrissey Boulevard, as Boston Globe staffers lash out over a stunning ultimatum from parent company The New York Times [NYT] Co.

“They’re nickel-and-diming people,” said a Globe union official who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that top executives at The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, “have ruined” the sagging broadsheet.

On Thursday, Times executives told representatives from the Boston paper’s 13 unions that they must trim $20 million from their budgets by May 1 or the Times would shut the paper down.

I read about this over the weekend, but never noticed the family connection to the Globe — tenuous though it may be.  Our branch of the Morrissey family came out of New York, not Boston.  While it’s nice to see Boston honoring the Morrissey name, I’m not sure whether the Globe or I should be more annoyed with the present connection.

The Washington Post had the most schadenfreude-tinged report on the ultimatum from Pinch Sulzberger, emphases mine:

In a striking example of corporate hardball, the New York Times Co. has threatened to shut down one of its journalistic jewels, the Boston Globe, unless the New England paper’s unions agree to sweeping concessions. …

The Times has generally granted the Globe editorial independence, but declining revenue has prompted cutbacks that have forced the Boston paper to limit its Washington and foreign coverage and to focus on regional news.

Is this the same sort of irony that we saw in the SEIU picketing the SEIU?  The New York Times has a strong pro-union bent in its editorial policy, but it’s also an employer in an industry taking heavy losses.  I’m not sure that the example of hardball is actually all that striking, something the Post itself admits later in the article.  It’s the exact position Hearst used to extract labor concessions at some of its own publications.

People have accused me of wanting to see newspapers fail.  It oddly parallels the entire kerfuffle over Rush Limbaugh’s statement about Barack Obama, and it’s doubly odd for me, since I’m a self-professed newspaper junkie who just transitioned to on-line offerings instead.  I want newspapers to do a better job of delivering the news without bias of omission or commission.  Those newspaper execs that put political concerns ahead of actual reporting, as alleged in the ACORN spike story, should either get bounced or make their mission explicit and quit pretending to be objective.  Newspapers need to find a better business model for the dead-tree drop or move away from it, and I’d like to see them succeed at that transition — if for no other reason than to be able to read and react to their stories.

I’m not cheering the storm over Morrissey Boulevard.  I’ll cheer the name of the street, though.


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So once the Boston paper goes under, the clock starts ticking on the main rag.

Vashta.Nerada on April 6, 2009 at 1:28 PM

The comments on the Boston Herald’s site about this are pretty funny.

You mean being dull and utterly predictable doesn’t sell papers? Who knew?

Realist on April 6, 2009 at 1:31 PM

I enjoy watching crappy newspapers fail.
I love my WSJ.

13 unions! LOL

joe_doufu on April 6, 2009 at 1:34 PM

People have accused me of wanting to see newspapers fail.

It’s okay to join the club, Ed. I WANT NEWSPAPERS TO FAIL. There is such a degree of rot in the foundation of the newspaper industry and the news media in general that failure is an important part of the solution to building a better, healthier press culture.

Robert_Paulson on April 6, 2009 at 1:35 PM

The newspaper industry won’t change before several more major papers implode. I suspect they might not even wise up then.

Prepare for more blood on the floor. If you’ve got extra $$$, consider buying stock in the papers least likely to die (USAToday, WSJ, etc.).

OhioCoastie on April 6, 2009 at 1:35 PM

I’m not cheering the storm over Morrissey Boulevard.

I am and I have very good reasons for it that date back over 30+ years. Not only will I cheer, the day it happens, I’ll pull up to the front door and relieve myself. Watch the Herald. I’m sure they’ll have a picture of me pissing on the Globe’s grave.

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW AND IT’S F’ING HARVEST TIME!

TheBigOldDog on April 6, 2009 at 1:35 PM

I want newspapers to do a better job of delivering the news without bias of omission or commission. Those newspaper execs that put political concerns ahead of actual reporting, as alleged in the ACORN spike story, should either get bounced or make their mission explicit and quit pretending to be objective.

Thank you. And if they won’t, let ‘em eat bankruptcy.

Christian Conservative on April 6, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Same thing happened to my local paper, the Toledo Blade last year. Very pro-union & pro-Democrat, yet they locked out the unions to gain concessions.

And while they recognize the folly of the bleeding heart policies in their own industry, they just can’t seem to translate that to other industries.

rbj on April 6, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Schadenfreude.

Wethal on April 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

You know, it’s odd. Seattle, Denver, etc–can’t afford two newspapers and probably not even one.

Yet Salt Lake City, a much smaller city and population, has two daily newspapers that at least one is thriving. Why? Well, let’s look at it.

One, the one that is thriving is mostly a conservative newspaper. It’s the Deseret News. Not coincidentally, it is owned by a (relatively conservative) institution, the LDS church. There’s no real conservative bias, but the church pretty much demands actual news.

Plus, the editor figured it out, that his sales are dying UNLESS he gives people content they want. Ergo, they focused on providing an additional something other papers aren’t doing. They report a lot of LDS news around the world. There’s a demand for that, people subscribe, the paper is thriving, even though their ad and classified revenue is in the toilet along with everyone elses.

Other papers might not have that, but even the other SLC paper is not doing badly. They pretty much take the opposite side of the Deseret News on everything. It’s a classic case of competition. Everyone knows that the Des News is a conservative paper, and the Salt Lake Tribune isn’t. So, you can easily “vote with your ideology.” There is real competition for stories, and both papers regularly get scoops on the other.

Yet they share costs, like the actual printing press and stuff. It seems to work out well.

Vanceone on April 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

If they would revert to reporting the news instead of making it up they might sell more papers and advertizing.

Amazed on April 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

My theory is that the fall of newspapers is that, much like bureacracies, the newspapers are bloated by a lot of non-performing sections. An effective business model would allow the customer to select the sections they wish to download; I believe the newspapers would get a lot leaner and more competitive. Oh, and also this might mean the death of a lot of political columns.

mad scientist on April 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

Could someone remind me which other big liberal rags are potentially on the way out soon besides the Boston Globe, the NY Times, and the “Red Star” (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune)?

teke184 on April 6, 2009 at 1:38 PM

Unions are good.*

*Except when they threaten liberals and their institutions.

amkun on April 6, 2009 at 1:38 PM

trim 20 million bucks and ALL Conservative Op Eds.

marklmail on April 6, 2009 at 1:39 PM

It’s not just the unions or the leftist reporting or the bad management. But put them all together and stir in the effect of internet news and you have an ominous stew simmering.
I don’t care about the New York Times or the Boston Globe because I don’t read either. Here in flyover country we have our own leftist rags to insult us.

SKYFOX on April 6, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Wonderful . . . now if their parent would crumble and The Washington Post slip into bankruptcy we’d all be much better off.

rplat on April 6, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Any industry that purposefully alienates half of its potential market isn’t intelligent enough to stay in business. Good riddance!

BTW Why aren’t the tree huggers loudly celebrating the demise of the newspaper media?

chromium on April 6, 2009 at 1:41 PM

P

repare for more blood on the floor. If you’ve got extra $$$, consider buying stock in the papers least likely to die (USAToday, WSJ, etc.).

OhioCoastie

I don’t want the papers to fail, just their editorial content. That being said, how they deliver the content is so 19th Century! And I have a plan for those papers that would listen….

You follow the model that the Wireless providers (Verizon, AT&T and Sprint) have used for years. Subsidized CPE. First option is you provide a free Kindle or Samsung ereader with the signing of a 2 year contract. Second option is a month to month subscription for those that have a ereader smartphone. In that case you bill through the cell phone carrier. You deliver the content in either case right to the CPE electronically.

You then on the back end just eliminate the presses, the pressmen (eg unions), the delivery trucks and all the other garbage that goes along with delivering a physical medium for information. Just realize that it does not eliminate blogging competitors so you have to be smarter about your content.

Just an idea.

Dr. Dog on April 6, 2009 at 1:43 PM

I’m not cheering the storm over Morrissey Boulevard.

Well when the storm dumps 5 inches of snow on your Boulevard on April 6th, why would you cheer it? Too bad the Twins are not in their new outdoor stadium.

WashJeff on April 6, 2009 at 1:44 PM

mad scientist on April 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

It’s much simpler than that. People don’t like to be lied to and played for fools and they certainly aren’t going to pay for it. And, when you’re anti-business they typically don’t advertise in your paper. Simple.

TheBigOldDog on April 6, 2009 at 1:45 PM

BTW Why aren’t the tree huggers loudly celebrating the demise of the newspaper media?

chromium on April 6, 2009 at 1:41 PM

For the same reason that they hail Al Gore and despite George Bush despite the energy-usage strategies at their respective homes… because anyone preaching for the Church Of Gaea gets you a pass for being completely wasteful with energy, while someone standing in their way gets demonized no matter how “green” they are in their personal life.

teke184 on April 6, 2009 at 1:46 PM

Newspapers these days seemed to be staffed solely by “professional” journalists trained solely in universities where they have been taught to be anti-American and to be solely of the left, just like most university departments of the humanities. Oh for the good old days of cigar chomping untrained newspaper reporters!

Dhuka on April 6, 2009 at 1:47 PM

As a Bostonian, I can accept that the Boston Globe is a liberal paper… no surprise there.

What bothers me more about the Globe is the terrible writing. It’s barely 7th grade level, and really bad 7th grade at that!

D2Boston on April 6, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Dummies at the Times. Don’t they know Boston hates New York and don’t take kindly to these tactics? Hey Beantown: I suggest a Boston “T” party. Take copies of the Times and dump them into Boston harbor. And while you’re at it, you can ask Barney Frank why he wasn’t looking out for you with these corporate hacks.

EMD on April 6, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Like several others, I want crappy libtard propaganda rags to fail.

dogsoldier on April 6, 2009 at 2:00 PM

If they were actually reporting instead of shilling for the Left, they might have stood a chance, but alas… cant say Im sorry, I hope they all fail.

Viper1 on April 6, 2009 at 2:02 PM

Frank Rich NYT touched on this ever so slightly this morning.

http://youhavetobethistalltogoonthisride.blogspot.com/2009/04/imus-guest-frank-rich-americanstorqued.html

Imus guest this morning, Frank Rich of the New York Times. They discuss Frank’s take on Wall Street vs Detroit Bail Outs, the double standard. There is a romance that surrounds Americans love of their cars however Americans view of Wall Street not so sentimental.

Plus Obama’s trip abroad.

Dr Evil on April 6, 2009 at 2:07 PM

Schadenfreude, indeed.

I don’t want newspapers to fail either, but the Globe stopped being a newspaper and began being an advocate for far left liberalism long ago.

Good riddance. I am sure that there are student newspapers in Dorchester that have better journalistic ethics than the Globe.

turfmann on April 6, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Vanceone on April 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

give the people what they want…. makes sense. It always works. Glad to see it still does!

Chaz706 on April 6, 2009 at 2:16 PM

I find it interesting the NYT would consider doing away with the Boston Globe. The NYT itself no longer is credible. The NYT should sell off their subsidiary newspapers and quietly go the way of the dinosaur that they are.

kanda on April 6, 2009 at 2:16 PM

People have accused me of wanting to see newspapers fail

I want newspapers to do a better job of delivering the news without bias of omission or commission

I on the other hand want them to fail.

Schadenfreude is best served with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

pabarge on April 6, 2009 at 2:22 PM

Perception, meet reality.

Not only are these failing rags uber-liberal and full of liars – the fact is people get tired of the same drivel, even lefties.

When toeing the line of liberalism – one can only go so far, one can only write so many “antiCon/Bush/Rush/Coulter” crap. Zero original thought among the leftist outlets and their deranged ilk.

Now, its time for reality to set in.

I do know the WSJ is flourishing, even after the left screeching of “unfairness to the integrity of journalism (which is hysterical)” before Murdoch bought it. Limbaugh and Becks ratings go throguh the roof after Bambi and his forest rangers go on personal attacks. And CNN gets less viewers than “Full House” in syndicate…

Oh and that Plumber guy isn’t doing half bad either.

The pendulum will turn, as it always does – away from the reactive liberalism to proactive conservatism. Then, of course, we will rinse and repeat the process, after we fuel success to those very myopic and dumb leftists.

Odie1941 on April 6, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Ed,

I find it deliciously ironic as well that the chickens are coming home to roost for The Grey Lady. They are not looking rather stupid in their overzealous defense of unions. They have certainly cost other companies their solvency with influence of their positions, so I am enjoying the turnabout.

If the New York Time wishes to save itself, it must return to report ALL of the hard news. While I live in Michigan, I used to stop at a local bookstore to buy the New York Times Sunday edition every week. I did that for many years. They lost me during the Clinton administration. I am just one of many thousands who stopped buying their paper when they only reported “All the News That’s Fit to Spin.”

Hawthorne on April 6, 2009 at 2:33 PM

They are not now looking rather stupid in their overzealous defense of unions.

Sorry, I needed to fix that typo. Sure wish your site allowed editing for a few minutes after posting.

Hawthorne on April 6, 2009 at 2:34 PM

And so the Domino falls upon another libtard news occupance….hurray.

they have made their bed now it’s time to lay in it

hawkman on April 6, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Typewriters for sale. Union made.

faraway on April 6, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Sorry for the terse commentary but — I hope all the leftist rags fail as soon as possible. It’s a beautiful capitalist lesson – supply and demand – supply good sound journalism and voila, demand goes up. Simple math not understood by simple-tons.

HomeoftheBrave on April 6, 2009 at 2:38 PM

NY Times lost 90% of it’s market value in 5 years.

This is a preview of Obamanomics.

faraway on April 6, 2009 at 2:43 PM

There’s something absolutely delightful about the NYT going to war with a union.

Blacklake on April 6, 2009 at 2:44 PM

I don’t give a damn about newspapers, but I am reminded of a conversation I had on an airplane once. I was talking to this guy who was proudly telling me about how they busted the unions at a radio station that his employer owned, and some of the tactics they used to prevent employees from unionizing. His employer? The master Union in a particular state of New South Wales, Australia.

Unions have long ago ceased to be “for the worker”, and instead are nothing but a shakedown racket. I love seeing them eat their own.

mr.blacksheep on April 6, 2009 at 2:45 PM

The master Union in a particular state of New South Wales, Australia.

S/B The master Union the state of New South Wales, Australia.

Sorry. That’s what an old bustard like me gets for trying to multi-task.

mr.blacksheep on April 6, 2009 at 2:47 PM

The Globe has thirteen unions? That is one of their problems right there, the other of course it’s another lib rag.

calgrammy on April 6, 2009 at 2:55 PM

13 unions! LOL

joe_doufu on April 6, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Standard anchors to drag when working in Boston.

saiga on April 6, 2009 at 3:00 PM

I think there should be a Congressional investigation of the excessive compensation paid to NYT executives. Possibly even a heavy tax surcharge aimed directly at them.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!

GarandFan on April 6, 2009 at 3:05 PM

[Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune] Yet they share costs, like the actual printing press and stuff. It seems to work out well.
Vanceone on April 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

Glad to see them trying something like that. I wondered if it is possible to split a paper into two divisions and hire qualified righty journalists (not David Brooks types) to run it. Another important qualifier: the people would have to be local — not rootless corporatists.

Feedie on April 6, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Death starts at the extremities, but soon very soon…Gray Lady Down?

d1carter on April 6, 2009 at 4:06 PM

I spent the day yesterday in central Mass. with several relatives and friends. Most of them are Democrats. To a person, they said they did not care if the Globe folded and that it asked for it with its political bias and its witch-hunting of the Catholic bishops.

rockmom on April 6, 2009 at 4:29 PM

Bostonians are much more concerned about what will happen to the Times Co.’s 17 percent share of the Boston Red Sox. Apparently it has been shopping this for months with no takers. That’s why it is now playing hardball with the Globe.

rockmom on April 6, 2009 at 4:30 PM

But if the Boston Globe closes, who’s going to tell me what to think? (/sarc)

blackrepublican on April 6, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Dummies at the Times. Don’t they know Boston hates New York and don’t take kindly to these tactics? Hey Beantown: I suggest a Boston “T” party. Take copies of the Times and dump them into Boston harbor. And while you’re at it, you can ask Barney Frank why he wasn’t looking out for you with these corporate hacks.

EMD on April 6, 2009 at 1:58 PM

I’m from the Commonwealth; believe me, I’d actually prefer to dump Barney Frank into Boston Harbor…

CaptFlood on April 6, 2009 at 4:42 PM

But if the Boston Globe closes, who’s going to tell me what to think? (/sarc)

blackrepublican on April 6, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Maybe the Boston Herald? That might give all Bostonians an education!

Of course, that only goes for two-paper towns. In a one-paper town like Hartford, the sheeple might have to think for themselves. Who will step into the void?

Steve Z on April 6, 2009 at 5:23 PM

On Thursday, Times executives told representatives from the Boston paper’s 13 unions that they must trim $20 million from their budgets by May 1 or the Times would shut the paper down.

Unions can cause strange unintended consequences for newspapers. One example is “Le Figaro”, the most conservative of the national daily newspapers in France, whose delivery people belong to the CGT, a union whose leadership belong to the Parti Communiste Francais (French Communist Party). Every time there’s a labor dispute between the Communist-controlled union and somebody else, the paper with a conservative editorial staff doesn’t get delivered to its customers.

You might think that “Le Figaro” might want to hire different delivery people, but it’s been this way for decades…

Steve Z on April 6, 2009 at 5:38 PM

I’m not seeing any down side to this situation.

PappaMac on April 6, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Steve Z on April 6, 2009 at 5:23 PM

The problem with the Herald is it doesn’t provide the comforting elitism that the Globe does. Besides, all Globe readers want is the appearance of intellectual curiosity without the inconvenience of considering opposing views that might trigger their ever fragile insecurities.

blackrepublican on April 6, 2009 at 8:06 PM

Morrissey, you magnificent bastard!

Grafted on April 7, 2009 at 11:06 AM