Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

We still need The Boston Globe

Posted by thecastlegroup on June 16, 2009

I have a Blackberry, get countless e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds, Twitter posts, information aggregated in Google Reader and My Yahoo — needless to say, there are plenty of places where I can get my news. And one of the last places I turn for breaking news is The Boston Globe.

However, I remain a near 30-year subscriber for home delivery. Prior to that, I was the home delivery, spending 7th and 8th grade trudging up and down hilly streets in Somerville to deliver The Globe (and Herald and New York Times).

The prospect of not having a Globe, or any region losing its daily newspaper, saddens me. They’ve apparently worked out some of their problems for now, but it’s not like subscribership is going to spike anytime soon, or ever again.

Is it the tactile sensation of opening a newspaper and flipping pages? Getting newsprint on your fingertips? Simple muscle memory? I do think it’s some of that, coupled with my generation (mid-40s).

But the web doesn’t do it for me as a replacement for a newspaper. You can find exactly what you want online — search for it, tag it, rate it, save it, share it. Those are great virtues, but what are non-newspaper readers missing?

First of all, it’s reading the articles you are not looking for that make a paper worthwhile — the little surprises you may find in a lifestyle column, or the big revelations you may discover while reading a detailed current events analysis. And there’s the pictures, and flow, and ads and everything else you don’t get from a website.

It’s no surprise that the most popular “news” sites are Huffington Post or TMZ. There’s a drop in “weightiness” on the web. There are still great stories, but you won’t find them if you’re not looking for them.

A newspaper gives you luxuries. You can skim when you’re busy, immerse when you have, discover new writers and opinions.

And don’t forget the watchdog element. The Globe’s Spotlight team has brought to light critical issues that people need to hear about. If The Globe fails, so does this effort.

News  media is changing all around us. TV news struggles to hit big numbers during sweeps, and builds hardly usable online sites to serve as companions to “extend” the news. In most cases, these sites fail.

Adaptation is the path the Globe, NECN, WBZ and more follow in an attempt to keep rapidly diminishing ad dollars and readers/viewers.

The true path is innovation, and there’s far too little of that in traditional media.

I look forward to a future where I can recline in an easy chair in my senior years and open the Globe, read it and still enjoy it. I know I need it. And I think our community needs it — for instilling regional pride, showing geographic identification, tackling tough societal issues and giving a home to good stories written well.  

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2 Responses to “We still need The Boston Globe”

  1. I still think of the Boston Globe as one of America’s great newspapers. The thought of it – our or local hometown paper, the San Francisco Chronicle – going under is unthinkable. Maybe I’m the proverbial Luddite but to me nothing beats the fact that when you read a newspaper, you become an informed citizen. As you’re reading the sections you want to read, you run across articles you wouldn’t necessarily seek out – and it makes one a more well-rounded participant in business and society. Technology – with its “self-select” approach to news will never equal that.

  2. Alyssa said

    I definitely agree with everything you are saying. Even though I am not a big newspaper reader, I still think it would be a huge loss if the Boston Globe went completely online.

    There is a definite difference between having a physical paper in your hands and having to look online for information. Many people have become accustomed to buying the physical newspaper and I think that not having it will turn a lot of readers away.

    I am a student at the University of Massachusetts and we recently did a big project on the potential closing of the Boston Globe. After all of the research we did, it became apparent that many people, including students, academics, industry insiders, most Globe readers in general would be very disappointed if the physical paper shut down.

    To check out videos and articles, please link to http://rosiewalunas.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/the-future-of-the-boston-globe-journalism-and-j-schools/ and http://rosiewalunas.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/uncertain-future-for-the-boston-globe-somewhat-certain-future-for-journalism/. Let us know what you think!

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