Sometimes we sit in our office examining back issues of DigBoston in which we swung fists dipped in Gorilla Glue and glass at horrors like the prospect of a Boston 2024 Olympics, and it feels good to know that we were right. Then we hit the Boston Globe archives to peruse their past coverage, and we wonder how the comfortables at our newspaper of record can live with themselves while knowing the junk they have pumped on innumerable fronts rots with time. Take, for example, the pricey rag’s unthinkable and more or less unflinching fellating of charter schools, from page one to their hilariously impotent op-ed hole for more than a decade, and their reluctance to now fully acknowledge the failure of that push for mass privatization, or the leviathans funding it.
With the Globe almost completely hidden behind an impenetrable paywall these days, we try not to waste as much time as we used to needling the unbelievable hypocrisy and negligence for which so many of their editors should be held accountable. No doubt they still have lots of readers, but it’s nice to think about how people often go to check their stories, only to be blocked by their Henry Hill business model: Fuck you, pay me! Demanding a subscription price point that is out of reach for half the region but mere pocket shrapnel for those who strip to their underwear each morning when they read the Globe to come a little closer to having their tails licked by shills masquerading as biz writers, the paper has become a daily Boston Common magazine, an accessory you might mention at brunch but that can’t really be taken seriously.
Which brings me to the obvious outrage of the past few weeks—the Globe’s sickening red carpet rollout for Amazon, and tandem mating calls to its exalted emperor. Their “Dear Jeff” apple bob was a pathetic cornucopia of thick yellowish liquid produced in infected tissue, bubbling with rhetorical bacteria and mayonnaise. In another case, the following line actually appeared, presumably because its author hasn’t been following the many broken promises of General Electric, which inspired comparable wishful imprudence: “This isn’t to say that the Legislature need give away the store with extravagant tax breaks or incentives. Instead, it’s a chance to reinvent the relationship between a city and a corporation … The stakes couldn’t be higher.”
Tell us about it. People are being displaced. Construction has roads backed up on virtually every major thoroughfare. Corporations run the show. Our politicians are purchased and bribed in a way that would make the big city bosses of past generations grin, for these contemporary kleptocratic aides have finally figured out how to enrich themselves legally, if not while in office then soon after. The revolving door is spinning, with deplorables like Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan diving mouth-first into the private consultancy sector before his term even ends. So, you bet that the stakes couldn’t be higher. And more than ever before, the Globe is asleep on the job, caught deep in a dream world in which Amazon’s Jeff Bezos adds their edgeless rag to his impressive media portfolio and saves them from the creatively stifling nightmare of life under John Henry.
The Globe doesn’t appear to be considering what is really at stake. Their coverage of the Boston mayoral and City Council elections is selective at best and nonexistent on most days. Far more energy is put into attempts to play New England paparazzi than to cover those doing interesting things locally. The fawning over Ben Affleck and Matt Damon hasn’t even paused during the fallout over Harvey Weinstein and his Hollywood enablers, while a recent Sunday page-one job randomly, uncritically, and mindlessly applauded Ted Kennedy, who as you may recall once killed a woman.
I could go on and on. Twisting with such minimal spine makes the Globe an easy target, especially following HUBweek. Covered extensively by its chief media sponsor and cocksure enabler, HUBweek’s like a party thrown by the wealthiest kid in your high school whom everyone secretly loathes. Only with this schlock operation, the organizers also invite their obnoxious friends, then ask suckers to sit through exchanges that range from sickening and shortsighted to gruesome. One even featured former Secretary of State John Kerry interviewing Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, about—get this—the “future of diplomacy.” That laughingstock was only outdone by a dialogue between Fidelity Investments CEO Abby Johnson and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. If you missed any of these inner-circle jerk paeans to the HUBweek sponsors and various other monsters of finance and industry, be sure to check the Globe’s dispatches, including one video titled “There’s outside-the-box thinking inside the domes at City Hall.”
Hardly. And as anyone who knows a damn thing about modern media will tell you, the Globe’s engagement-averse approach is the box—square, boring, and far too often sealed off to the world around them. A page-one blumpkin this past weekend argued that “the city’s 218-page proposal, submitted to Amazon by last Thursday’s deadline, made [Boston’s] strengths abundantly clear.” Perhaps, but the shameless boosterism by Globe writers, who are unwilling to see why the last thing we need around here are more takers, reveals our city’s greatest weakness, which is that far too many people in extremely powerful positions not only routinely neglect to understand the region’s problems, but believe that tax-dodging disruptors and bullies who don’t give a rat’s little boner about Boston will come to the rescue.
They won’t. And from everything we’ve seen over the past couple of years, neither will the Boston Globe.
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.