The Drum Awards for Marketing Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

The Boston Globe: pointing the way for the newspaper business?


By Noel Young | Correspondent

April 28, 2012 | 5 min read

It's been a week for pundits pontificating about newspapers. I don't how many have actually worked for a successful paper, but the remark I loved was Rupert Murdoch, explaining his love for them , "They're tactile."

Noel Young. ex-editor Sunday Mail

That's right, you can touch them and hold them. It almost makes them sexy.

This week I joined a group of readers doing what few outsiders have done : I sat in on the editorial conference of the Boston Globe. The paper is inviting readers - insiders who actually subscribe - to attend the morning conference each Friday. Not ALL of them, just eight at a time.

I have to say it was very stimulating. Part of a great move forward for a paper that was in the doldrums just a few years back, put up for sale by the New York Times. Thankfully, there were no takers and the paper , no longer for sale, has recovered its mojo.

It sells 206,000 daily into a population roughly the same size as Glasgow (where the Herald sells just under 50,000). It has a launched a new website alongside the old one, which was probably the first newspaper site in the US. The new site is much cleaner and faster with fewer distractions.

In the e-paper, you turn the pages. getting ads and all, as in the print edition. It's paid-for (but you get full access for the cost of the Sunday paper alone). Try it out! It's free until May 6.

The readers at the editorial conference certainly liked it .

There were around eight execs at the conference, spread out round a rather vast horseshoe table. There was a giant video screen , for the videos that might make it into the online paper. That day's offering was someone rappelling down a new tower block hotel .

The Washington editor checked in from the capital, his voice echoing round the room. He was writing about Romney's plans for getting more money out of the punters . A good fun feature was on a university team who had successfully built toys for elephants to play with.

Then there was the big story: the centenary of the Red Sox Fenway Park stadium .One hundred years ago that day New York came and lost - today the Yankees came and won.

What I was surprised about was how much of what was discussed actually made it into the paper in the order discussed . Not much news that day!

After a mini-group huddled with managing editor Caleb Solomon for final decisions , he turned round to the readers as the executives left . Any questions? And for 30 minutes he dealt with queries from all angles.

The Globe has become known, despite cutbacks, for a whole series of great investigative stories: Rampant corruption and favoritism across the state probation department (many head have rolled) , drunk drivers getting an inordinate amount of passes from judges after opting out of jury trials, fish merchants and restaurants passing off cheap varieties as top-tier fish .

The Boston Globe still has its problems: a dearth of display advertising early in the week is one. The in-paper ads for the new e-paper edition seem to suggest that they wouldn't much mind if the whole paper went online .

"Everything but the Ink" say the ads in large type (not mention newsprint and distribution costs) .

I hope not. The Globe is "tactile" the way it is, you see - great to get it in your hands.


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +