In a somewhat different case of global warming, employees in The Boston Globe office this morning might be sweating a bit more than usual for this time of year in New England. Anxieties in the print journalism industry have reached new heights, as The Boston Globe faces potential closure after 137 years of publication. The paper’s ownership, The New York Times Co., has suffered substantial losses from The Globe and has stipulated that union members must agree to $20 million in cuts or the newspaper may be terminated.
Aside from The Globe’s prominent position as the largest newspaper in New England, the paper is also renowned for high quality news coverage and strong investigative reporting. Globe coverage has served a necessary role in researching and reporting on issues pertinent to readers in our region. For example, the paper recently exposed a dubious Massachusetts health insurance deal
, and gave voice to public demand
for the resignation of corrupt state senator Dianne Wilkerson. By virtue of its undeniably high level of journalism and important public function, The Boston Globe demands preservation.
In addition to The Globe’s quality reporting, the paper fills an essential niche of focused local reporting and creates a level of local scrutiny and accountability that cannot be matched by papers with a national focus. Furthermore, a distinct New England newspaper lends a crucial cognizance of Boston’s history and context that a simple New England section on The New York Times website, for instance, never could. A nationalized media source would be unable to provide the same good as The Boston Globe.
Of course, financial constraints mandate cutbacks, and the reality of the situation necessitates considerable action. However, as opposed to closing the entire institution, other options should be considered. Termination of the print edition, for example, would be much preferable and could cut sufficient costs to allow Globe reporting to be upheld in its online format. Although The Globe’s average weekday circulation has dropped considerably, its online readership has seen substantial growth over the past year. Despite financial woes, there is still a demand for Globe reporting. Of course, maintaining The Globe in its current format would be ideal, but preserving the paper online should be the main priority.
Ultimately, the final decision about the fate of The Globe rests with its unions. The prospect of considerable wage cuts is an unfortunate reality for union members to confront, but the terms offered by The New York Times Co. are undeniably preferable to the total loss of jobs and wages that would accompany the closure of the newspaper. The unions should consider their own immediate and long-term interests, as well as those of their paper, and be willing to accept substantial cuts. Print journalism faces a wide range of challenges in today’s changing media environment, but newspapers must bear sacrifices now just to survive long enough to address them.