Larry Edelman, The Boston Globe business editor, offered his take on how one of the nation’s top newspapers—the biggest in New England— is meeting the challenges of new information technology and a rapidly shifting readership.
Edelman told the dozen-plus Boston Public Relations Society of America members assembled in The Tom Winship Room, just off the newsroom, “The Globe is tailored to be an online news operation that also happens to print a newspaper,” except now the overhead and salaries have to come from subscriptions rather than advertising. “When subscriptions pay my salary, we have to give readers something they are willing to pay for.”
The Globe’s online paid circulation is over 70,000, the highest among any regional newspaper in the US and, between BostonGlobe.com and its free regional website Boston.com, the paper garners a million unique hits a day.
The Globe has to stand out Edelman said, “We don't want to be in the commodity news business. We want to cover ideas, not companies with obligatory news stories simply because they are big and old.”
Edelman told the group he believes the Boston economy is well positioned with a diverse range of forward- looking industries such as biotechnology, real estate development, medicine and education. “We’re in a bubble but it’s a lucky bubble.”
The emphasis is also on covering those industries from the perspective of how they impact the lives of people in the region. Explained Edelman, “We are at the intersection of people who create and the money,” adding that Trump’s “preposterous 20-percent cut to NIH [the National Institute for Health] would be disastrous to this area.”
Given the importance of medicine and biotechnology regionally, The Globe last year launched STAT a premium subscription service offering exclusive reporting about the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as well as newsletters, invitations to events, early access to special reports, and other reader benefits.
The Globe is evaluating its news beats to reflect shifting interests as well. “The business of food is an increasingly popular topic that pulls in new readers and is getting more attention editorially.”
Deadlines have changed too. “Our readership swells between 6 AM and 1-2 PM so our best stories have to be up in the morning—when our readers are online. Filing new stories at 4-5 PM in the afternoon should be for the next day’s edition.”
The editorial staff is about half of what it once was during the heyday of print, The Globe is moving to smaller quarters in downtown Boston with the printing plant located in Taunton and run as a separate business. It prints the competing Boston Herald and other publications. The Globe’s emphasis on great journalism and its institutions will continue. Notably The Spotlight Team, which was awarded an Oscar for the motion picture “Spotlight” will remain firmly in place.
Though The Globe, and other newspapers are moving inexorably to publishing exclusively online, we’ll probably still be calling them newspapers for many years to come.
No matter. We still dial the phone.
By Dick Pirozzolo
Pirozzolo Company Public Relations