I’ve been known to get inebriated with reporter friends at bars and break into soliloquies about how I would run Boston.com if I took over as its editor. Some versions involve me strolling in behind a cloud of smoke and reinstating typewriters, while other incarnations have me sporting a Carmen Miranda hat for easy banana-flinging action whenever the Boston Globe bosses dis me. In any case, my spiel typically goes something like this:
I’ll tell you exactly how I’d turn that sinking ship around …
On day one, I would invite all of their perpetually humiliated writers and editors into a conference room …
Then I’d have a waiter in a tux come in passing hors d’oeuvres, and I’d fire anyone who actually thought that BDC deserved a party for their efforts in polluting the Hub media ecosystem …
Next I would project an image of the Greater Boston region, with which I suspect few of their writers are familiar, and guide the flock with great vengeance and furious anger: “Anyone who writes about a single thing that happens outside of this area will be put to death!”
That goes for television recaps that can be found in innumerable other places, spot news about dead celebrity car auctions, and anything else not particularly relevant to Eastern Massachusetts.
My imaginary monologue goes on and on. I would tar and feather those who lazily regurgitate old lists, pile-drive reporters for recycling ridiculousness from elsewhere, and shame overpaid designers who apparently lack chops or proper guidance to at least mask shallow prose with clever graphics. Of course, since I can’t actually inflict corporal punishment upon every newsroom that deserves hazing—there’s just not enough time in the day—for Media Farm this week, I thought to do the next best thing, which, in the wake of BDC freeing more than a dozen slaves from its content farm last week, means verbally condemning the most hideous pandering beast among us.
It’s taboo to applaud mass firings of journalists. “I hate to see any reporter lose their job,” we are supposed to say. But in this case, it is hard not to see the casualties as better off for it. BDC’s fumbles are infamous, like when editors exhausted an insanely desperate scoop about Chinese food until their fortune was reversed and the staff embarrassed. Likewise, it’s hardly any secret that the mother ship Globe is ashamed of its malnourished bastard. But even though the word is out about their depraved ways—behaviors that predictably result in negligent and meaningless journalism, a reputation soiled beyond any significant recognition—it seems unlikely that managers have learned any lessons that may help reverse their cursed course. For proof of said reluctance, one needn’t look any further than the statement issued by one of their so-called digital strategists, as well as from the site’s recently decamped general manager, a clueless Harvard Business schooler who cares so much about journalism that he left for the fantasy football site DraftKings.
We have spent much of the past few months rethinking an operational vision for Boston.com that both maintains our autonomy as a standalone business and reinforces our partnership with the Globe. Today, we announced a restructuring of Boston.com’s newsroom and the reduction of 12 full-time staff positions.
This is a business decision that is part of a larger effort at Boston Globe Media Partners designed to put Boston.com in a stronger and more sustainable position for growth. That said, we would be remiss to overlook the fact that this was also a people decision, one that affects the lives of many who have worked tirelessly to support our operation. We are deeply grateful for that work.
You’re damn right it was a business decision. Every last decision made on Morrissey Boulevard appears to be driven by business first and journalism last, and look at the pile of reportorial rubble in which that has landed BDC. As for all that junk about appreciating media makers, we must be living on entirely different planets. From where I’m standing, as one of the few reporters in Boston who openly don’t give a fuck about ever working for Evil Corp, I’m happy to echo the laments of every BDC expat who has spilled their guts to me over beers, and told me how demoralizing every day of their existence really was within the confines of that lowly pop culture dictatorship. If any of the Globe honchos want to hear more of their stories, complete with my routine about taking over as the BDC editor, I’m happy to perform at the bar of their choice, Carmen Miranda headwear and all.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.