The Struggles of Boston Newspapers in Making the Transition to New Media

I came across an interesting article this morning entitled 10 Newspaper Myths Deconstructed.

There is a lot of talk out there about how the newspaper industry is in trouble. Some feel that newspapers will be obsolete in the near future, and that they are struggling to keep up with new media.

This article outlines 10 major misconceptions held by publishers and executives that hinder newspapers from keeping up with the new media party.


I’m going to look at the points and offer some comments and observations based on the Boston area…mostly in the context of the Boston Globe, (because you might soon see some reasons why that unit of the NY Times is struggling so badly) but also the region’s papers in general.

Myth1 : We pay for printed content
Fact 1: News content was always free

The point is made in the online column that the 50 cents that you slapped down for a newspaper in the past was to cover the paper and printing…all the content, editing and delivery are paid for by advertisements. So the notion that papers should be charging for their content online doesn’t work. Remember when the Globe flirted with the idea of taking its sports content to a pay model? If they still decide to go through with that, it will likely be a disaster. The Boston Herald used to charge for to read content from columnists – an idea that was dropped in time.

Myth 2: There is not enough money in online ads
Fact 2: Newspapers don’t care about online ads

One of the notes that the original article makes about online ads:

And once and for all: No popups. Everybody hates popups and companies that use popups to advertise their stuff make us angry.

Boston.com (Online home of the Boston Globe) uses pop-up ads. In fact they’re pretty aggressive with them. I have various popup blockers on my Firefox browser, which is good to begin with at blocking popups, and still the ads get through from time to time. It doesn’t endear them to me, or most likely anyone else browsing the site. Advertising is necessary, being intrusive is annoying.

Myth 3: Newspapers need on- and offline identities
Fact 3: Newspaper need one identity

The article uses The New York Times as a good example. They have one identity. The online Times and the print Times are one entity. So why does their New England unit not follow that example? You’ve got the Boston Globe print edition and you’ve got Boston.com, which are two separate entities, even if they share content and office space. As the article states:

The “special” online identity communicates: “This is not the real thing. It’s a sloppy version of the paper.” Get rid of that silly “online” or “.com” or “.co.uk” or whatnot attribute after your precious brand. The New York Times got it right.

Ideally there should be the Boston Globe newspaper and the Boston Globe website, seamlessly integrated into one cohesive organization and brand.

Myth 4: Newspapers need closed archives
Fact 4: Closed archives destroy access

Want to look up a Globe or Herald article from last year? Ante up.

Do the papers make a lot of money charging for access to their archive? I doubt it.

Are they losing out on tons of traffic (and income) that would come in through search engines like Google? No doubt about it.

Why can’t they see that?


Myth 5: Newspapers pages need to burst with stuff
Fact 5: Readers want nicely presented information

Many newspaper web sites are disasters. They obviously view the web site as an afterthought. They’re losing out. The Boston.com and Herald websites are actually pretty good in presenting information and content, but some of the other local websites, especially the ones associated with smaller papers, are a nightmare.

Myth 6: People are stupid, Journalists are smart
Fact 6: The collective is smarter than you

Was this written with certain Globe writers in mind? They writers note that using “the intelligence of your readership is far more economic than insulting it.”

On one hand you have Dan Shaughnessy routinely insulting bloggers and “fanboys” and on the other you have Mike Reiss taking feedback and suggestions from readers, and getting the information they’re looking for. Which is better for business?

Myth 7: Journalists=professional, bloggers=smearers
Fact 7: Bloggers are journalists

Like it or not.

Myth 8: The web is just a trend. No need to panic.
Fact 8: Change or die

Embrace the web, blogs and new technology. Don’t mock it. It’s not going away, and if you’re not able to adapt to it, you’re surely not going to adapt to what comes after it.

The last two points are not as germane to the discussion of sports media, but interesting nonetheless:

Myth 9: Without paper journalism&democracy die
Fact 9: Social news is democratic news

Myth 10: Newspapers need to become social networks.
Fact 10: Newspapers need to become wikis

———–

Newspapers all over the country (not just New England) are struggling to adapt to the new age of media we find ourselves in. Some are doing better than others. The Boston.com website is actually pretty progressive, with chats, blogs, videos, podcasts and slideshows integrated nicely into the content. However, based on the points above, the Boston Globe and other papers in the region are still struggling in grasping how to best adapt to the modern environment. Monitoring how they’re progressing in this adaptation should certainly be interesting over the coming months and years.

Celtics Show Some Magic in OT

The Celtics once again showed some determination and desire against a team fighting for a playoff spot, as they outlasted the Orlando Magic 105-96 in double-overtime last night at the Garden. Paul Pierce led the way with 32 points, Al Jefferson had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Kendrick Perkins, whose game was maligned on the Dale & Holley show yesterday, finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 assists. He played very good defense on Magic star Dwight Howard, who only finished with 12 points. The win closed the gap between the Celtics and fast-sinking Milwaukee Bucks to only 3.5 games for the second worst record in the league.

Scott Souza has the recap of the win, and Paul Pierce again talking about shutting in down for the season as he says his body can’t take much more. Steve Bulpett has the Celtics taking the opportunity late in the season to learn how to win games. Bill Doyle leads off by saying he doesn’t want to hear any more talk about Pierce shutting it down. Well, that talk dominated the stories this morning as Pierce hinted that last night might’ve been his last game of the season. Michael Vega has Pierce mulling a shutdown after last night’s win. Shalise Manza Young says that Pierce and the Celtics didn’t get the memo about their lottery chances last night.

Doyle does also write about whether Paul Pierce is done for the season. Souza’s notebook has Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck praising Doc Rivers for his “trending upward” Celtics. Bulpett’s notebook has more from Pierce on shutting it down for the season. Doyle’s notebook compares and contrasts Dwight Howard and Al Jefferson, two big men who came out of high school in 2004 to go pro. Young’s notebook has the Celtics broadcasts moving over to WEEI.

Red Sox

A few members of the Red Sox media were invited to have lunch with pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, and their two interpreters yesterday. Michael Silverman leads off with Matsuzaka banging his elbow on the table while talking about Pedro Martinez redirecting Don Zimmer to the ground during the playoff series in 2003. Dan Shaughnessy sat next to Matsuzaka and describes the experience in some detail, right down to the stubble on his chin. Tony Massarotti wonders what was really going through the mind of the pitchers during the session with the “group of gaijin that Johnny Pesky frequently refers to as ‘the carnivorous Boston press.'” Sean McAdam has more on the luncheon and Jeff Goldberg provides a Q&A of the session.

Alex Speier talks to Brendan Donnelly about how his brief stint with the Nashua Pride was a crossroads for his career. Stan Grossfeld examines some of the superstitions that members of the Red Sox have had and current have. Jeff Horrigan has Kevin Youkilis enjoying a productive spring as one of the more unheralded players in the Red Sox lineup. Joe Haggerty looks at Alex Cora playing the role of utilityman to perfection with the Red Sox.

Bill Doyle has Don Orsillo and Worcester Tornadoes GM R.C. Reuteman talking about their time together in Binghamton, where Orsillo started his career as a 22 year old announcer boy.

Horrigan’s notebook has Schilling feeling good about his tune-up start yesterday for Monday’s opening day start against the Royals. Shaughnessy’s notebook has the Red Sox taking back the Mayors cup last night. McAdam’s notebook has more on Schilling and the Red Sox looking good last night. Goldberg’s notebook has more on a favorable outing from Schilling in preparation for Monday.

NFL

Mike Reiss looks at NFL commissioner addressing the issue of player personal conduct.

Reiss’ notebook has more college players scheduled for visits to Gillette stadium and Troy Brown saying that he’d like to play this year, but hasn’t decided for sure yet.

Celtics Back on WEEI

Wyc Grousbeck was a guest on WEEI’s Big Show this afternoon, and announced that the club’s radio broadcasts will be moving from WRKO 680 over to WEEI for the next two seasons.

The release from the club is pasted follow the TV listings below.

————————
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated served as an umpire in last Friday’s Red Sox exhibition game against the Orioles. He writes about in this weeks edition of the magazine, on newsstands today. His story has his account of J.D. Drew thinking that he is a real umpire and asking him for a ruling on a play that he really doesn’t know the answer to – when the ball is wedged under the fence.

“Uh, did it go under the fence at all?” I ask in an attempt to avoid his question. “Because if it goes under the fence it’s a dead ball even if he fishes it out.”

“No,” Drew says, more impassioned this time. “The ball got stuck between the bottom of the fence and the ground. What’s the ruling?”

“The ball’s in play unless it goes completely under the fence,” I reply, in full filibuster mode as I return to the under-the-fence diversion.

“No, not under the fence,” Drew says again, more confused than annoyed about not getting a direct answer from an umpire. “What’s the ground rule here on a ball stuck under the fence?”

He relates getting rescued by a real umpire just in time. He notes that he went to Drew the next day, who said he didn’t recognize on the field.

————————
Chad Finn has a new post up on his Touching All The Bases blog and among the usual entertaining items is some good news; he’ll be doing a weekly column for FoxSports.com and he mentions that he’ll soon have “some sort of affiliation with Boston.com.”

Finn needs a larger audience just so they can read stuff like this:

His Idiot’s Guide To Plagiarism was one thing, but yesterday’s suggestion that the Celtics might want to consider trading for pretty-close-to-untouchable Jazz star Carlos Boozer made it official: Butch Stearns has officially passed Steve Burton as the frontrunner for our annual TV Sports Dude Who Was Most Likely Dropped On His Head As An Infant award. Stay tuned.

———————————————–

The Red Sox held a media lunch today for several of the reporters covering the team, as an opportunity to meet with Japanese pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima and their interpreters. The accounts:

————————————————
Bill Simmons unveils his plan to save Holy Cross basketball.

Murray Chass continues his obsession with the Red Sox and J.D. Drew.

Andy Hart answers a bag of PFW email.

Joe Theismann says he has been offered a job as a college analyst for ESPN/ABC, but isn’t sure he wants to take the job, saying “It would be like training to be a doctor or a lawyer and having them say, ‘we would like you to change to another profession.”

Leonard Shapiro has a good column on ESPN’s Pam Ward.

————————————————
Tonight
7:00pm, NESN – Red Sox/Twins
7:30pm, FSN – Magic @ Celtics
8:00pm, ESPN – McDonalds All American Game
10:00pm, Rockets @ Clippers

————————————————-
Celtics/Entercom Press Release:

BOSTON (March 28, 2007) – The Boston Celtics and Entercom Boston announced today that they will move the broadcasts of Celtics games from Boston’s Talk Station, AM 680 WRKO to Sportsradio 850 WEEI beginning with the 2007-2008 season through the term of the current agreement. For the past two seasons Celtics games have been broadcast on WRKO.

“While we have enjoyed a fantastic partnership with WRKO, we couldn’t be more pleased about moving our broadcasts to WEEI,” said Rich Gotham Celtics Chief Operating Officer. “WEEI is the number one sports talk station in the country and provides an ideal flagship for both our game broadcasts and Celtics talk for our loyal fans.”

Both Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell are expected to remain as the play-by-play team. Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and Head Coach Doc Rivers will continue to make their weekly appearances on WEEI during the season. In addition, the Celtics and Entercom will continue to promote the team’s games across Entercom Boston’s network of stations including WRKO and WAAF and the WEEI New England Network made up of WEEI FM 103.7 in Providence, WVEI 1440 AM in Worcester, and WVEI FM 105.5 FM in Springfield will serve as regional affiliates of the broadcasts.

“I’m very excited about the return of the Celtics to WEEI,” Jason Wolfe said, Entercom Boston Vice President of AM Programming. “We have developed an outstanding partnership with the team over the last two years on WRKO and I’m looking forward to continuing that great work next year and in the years to come.”

“The Celtics are a world class organization and I am thrilled we will be broadcasting their games on WEEI,” Julie Kahn said, Entercom Vice President and Marketing Manager. “Entercom and the Celtics have achieved tremendous mutual success with our relationship the last few years and I‘m anxiously anticipating the future.”