The Boston Globe is the largest newspaper in New England. The powerhouse regional daily newspaper, which still sets the agenda for daily discourse in Boston and Massachusetts.
But it has been dying a not-so-slow death for more than a decade. Like most daily newspapers, the Globe has seen its paid circulation plummet (from a once-upon-a-time high of close to 600,000 readers to about 230,000). Once a top 10 newspaper in readership it now sits at number 23 in the nation behind newspapers based in Tampa Bay and Newark, N.J. (which at one time were feeder papers for talent to the Globe).
Last week, the corporate owners of the Globe, the New York Times Co., announced it was putting New England’s flagship newspaper up for sale. The Times will likely take a beating on the offering. It paid an ungodly $1.1 billion for the Globe back in 1993. Now they will be lucky to sell it for $100 million.
New owners are on the horizon – and they will have some big challenges ahead. Here is what I would do if I had the money and the opportunity to buy the Globe:
- Make Digital the Driver: Change the mindset. Print is dead, but it doesn’t matter. The Globe isn’t a newspaper. It’s a news organization. But like it or not there is an entire generation under the age of 30 that doesn’t subscribe to paper products. They get their news from computers, mobile phones and iPads – mostly for free. There’s no way to turn back the clock, so just make digital the focus. Turn Boston.com, the Globe‘s web property, into a 24-hour news channel. Make it awesome. Make it interactive, unexpected, visually striking. Think about new ways to present news and make that the priority.
- Journalism Sells, News Doesn’t: News is a commodity. When the president gives a speech you can get that news everywhere. It’s basically worthless to sell. But journalism is different. Investigative and expository journalism is new, exciting and people will pay for content that has those unique qualities – especially if presented in interactive and multimedia formats. Invest in journalism and cutback on news gathering.
- Go Video, Live Video: Forget real-time – go live-time. Make Boston.com a place where if you blink, you miss out (but you can always watch the taped version). Boston.com should become an online news hub. Bring it to life – with personality, design and content. Video, especially a live video, can be used to tell news in new and exciting ways. Every major story should be presented with a video portion. Every breaking news story should have live video. That’s how the younger generation is consuming their content – it’s what they want.
So what about you? Any advice for the new owners of the Boston Globe? How do you want to see the newspaper evolve?*