There's been a cliffhanger drama playing out in the news industry over the last few weeks as negotiators for the New York Times company and the unions representing employees of the Boston Globe try to agree on millions of dollars in wage concessions, hoping to save Beantown's only daily broadsheet.
As of this writing, all of the unions save the Newspaper Guild have agreed to wage concessions and other cost savings, and as a result, the Times has backed away from plans to file a notice that the Globe would be shut down in 60 days. According to a May 5 story on the Globe website, the New York Times company is seeking another $10 million in savings from the Guild, which represents editorial employees. According to its corporate owners, the Globe is projected to lose $85 million in 2009.
The Guild has been aggressive in its outreach to the Globe readership, even holding a rally to garner support:
In an open letter to their membership before the rally, the Guild leadership argued:
The Boston Globe is a bedrock institution of Boston and its survival affects the livelihood of many other institutions and groups - and the lives of virtually everyone. This city, and all of New England, is counting on us to survive.
The video below from NECN provides some background on the Globe's place in the history of the city:
A search of the Pulitzer Prize website yielded a list of 92 winners and finalists, including a 2008 award for criticism. A package of 2007 prize-winning stories by national reporter Charlie Savage includes detailed coverage of the Bush administration's assertions about the scope of presidential power in the service of the War on Terror.
Pamela Leavey at the Democratic Daily also thinks losing the Globe would hurt Boston, echoing Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz's observation that the only other daily in the town, the tabloid Boston Herald, is down to just 10 employees. Blogher community member Fringe Magazine points to an online petition that the Guild has posted.
Yesterday, New York Times blogger Kate Phillips noted White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' statement that the Globe and other struggling news organizations shouldn't look to the White House. As Gibbs implies, the idea that you shouldn't count on the government to bail out the institution that is supposed to be a watchdog on government should be a no-brainer.
For an idea of the news we might get from Boston in the absence of the Globe, I did a search of Placeblogger.com. The most recent headlines are about new medical devices and read like recycled press releases. No doubt, new ventures will spring up to fill the void left by the Globe and the emaciated Herald, perhaps powered by some of the projects incubating at MIT's Center for Future Civic Media in nearby Cambridge.
If the Boston Globe dies, will you miss it? What would you be willing to do to help save it?
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