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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

As the Globe turns

So will Jack Welch and Jack Connors buy the Globe? Will The New York Times sell? Will the Herald ever acknowledge its own problems with as much glee as it relishes those on Morrissey Boulevard?

Steve Bailey's story about a pair of Jacks thinking about buying into one of the nation's most beleaguered newspapers is the start of a long-running soap opera. It's been well chronicled elsewhere how many problems newspapers face today in an era of declining advertising revenues and rising Wall Street expectations (20 percent profit margins are bad????)

A couple of things the Jacks should consider as they move ahead. The advertising market is going to get better (as Hill Holliday founder Connors should well know).

Only this week, the head of Federated Department Stores -- which bought and consolidated or closed Filene's and other several other chains -- talked about a new commitment to Boston, And a high-end one that included a "upscale" Macy's and a new Bloomingdale's.

There's also some major construction going on in Natick, around the site of an already major mall. New tenants -- such as the upscale Nordstrom's -- are going to revitalize advertising.

Yes, much of the advertising (and its revenues) are migrating to the web. But do you click on the banners or actually spend time with the annoying pop-ups? While department stores may be as an endangered a species as the newspaper, neither is going away tomorrow. And department stores, with their variety of products, are harder to sell on the web than in newsprint.

But the bigger things the Jacks need to be aware of is their credibility. Mrs. Welch, the former AP reporter Suzy Wetlaufer, doesn't have the highest ethics rating in the business after sleeping with the marreed man (Welch) she was interviewing for the Harvard Business Review.

In fact, about the only person with a lower credibility rating is their pal Mike Barnicle -- dumped from two local newspapers for a combination of serial plagiarism and laziness above and beyond the call of duty. Any deal that includes a revitalized Barnicle presence in Boston is a bad one.

And just once, I'd like the Herald scribes to focus on their own problems with the elan they attack the Globe's.


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