Boston Globe to shut down? Get a grip
The story not only was vastly overplayed but also may serve to unnecessarily damage the newspaper’s already weakened business. The editors, who evidently let emotion overcome their news judgment, should have known better.
While it is unfortunate that the continuing deterioration of the newspaper business is forcing publishers to take previously unthinkable measures to reduce operating costs, it is not the least bit unusual in this toxic economy for the management at a newspaper – or an automaker or any of dozens of other businesses – to ask for concessions from its employees.
The only shock in the news from the Globe is that the New York Times Co. wants only $20 million in concessions from its unions to help offset an expected $85 million operating loss. Given the magnitude of the projected deficit for 2009, the target is surprisingly low.
The givebacks were demanded at a meeting with union leaders on Thursday morning, where NYT Co. threatened to close the paper unless it the cuts are rapidly approved.
Addressing more modest budget shortfalls at the Newark Star-Ledger and San Francisco Chronicle, the respective publishers of each paper extracted concessions of approximately $40 million and $50 million from their unions.
Tough as this will be for employees whose pay, benefits or retirement are cut – not to mention those who lose their jobs altogether – the concessions being sought at the Globe appear to be relatively moderate as these things go.
The Globe’s editors should have recognized this. They would have been well within their rights to publish a story about the management demands and the union response, but they went off the deep end in deciding to top today’s front page with a fat, two-line banner.
Not only are they unnecessarily alarming readers and Globe employees but they also may have harmed the newspaper’s business prospects.
The headline is almost sure to be used by salespeople for competing media to encourage merchants to diversify their advertising spend so they are not over-dependent on the Globe in the event the paper were to succumb.
While few of us dare predict what will happen next in the ongoing drama of the newspaper industry, it seems highly unlikely that NYT Co. would walk away from its $1.1 billion investment in the Globe without trying a few more tricks to save the business.
The Globe may stop spinning some day. But not yet.