Image by Scott Murry
The following is a BostInnoterpolation …
In news, December is known as the “WTF season.” Bill Cosby scares bathers at a local beach? Headlines for days. It’s no surprise Boston media were eager to jump on a story of substance that lots of people wanted to read. We’re not talking about recently elected Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker.
Boston.com’s near-collapse might be the media story of the year, but it wasn’t a story for DigBoston. In fact, we didn’t run a single headline on it.
It’s ironic, because we love Chinese food, from nicer places like the Sichuan Garden to dives. But since we are a young publication, our writers – 20-something and urban, like our readers – are not banging on our door to write about takeout food.
We’ve listened and given some thought to understanding why not. Our writers feed on good stories. Shit that matters is the strongest thread running through all our beats, from style to tech to city news. So why not this story?
DigBoston covers stories that are worth covering. Sichuan Garden has excellent soup, but it’s not an innovative business and it’s not in Boston. It’s not where many of our readers eat dinner. Ultimately, this is a suburban story about a family business that’s about as old-school as they come. It’s a great story, but it’s not our story.
We think at any publication, metrics-motivated editors would do well to take into account Sichuan Garden’s passionate employees. They’re reading every BostInno story you publish. So, all of you at the Globe and Boston Magazine, we encourage you to take whatever traffic you’re seeing and subtract 25,000. Those readers aren’t coming back. They’re going back to GQ, which has been covering Ran Duan since long before you took interest.
We’re not second-guessing the decision to hit this story hard. What we witnessed at Boston.com this winter may have been unique in the history of Harvard Business School. But at times, writers’ enthusiasm for the story’s soap-opera elements verged on silly-season schadenfraude.
We think it’s easy to forget about the people who would rather not see Ben Edelman in the news. His past opponents sacrificed pay and they put their financial security on the line. We’re on record as fans of Ran Duan, but there were moments in this when he seemed more interested in generating friendly press than in making a deal. (We’re guessing that embarrassing the other party in the media is not a chapter in the closers’ handbook.)
Or was he? It’s possible that without media attention, Duan might not have achieved the favorable outcome he won this past week. (Doubters: Edelman’s outcome is favorable.) In the end, the only losers here are members of the reading public – and newshounds who now have to contemplate covering the new governor.
It’s rare that a business story commands front-page attention, weeks in a row. In some ways it’s pained us to sit this one out. But mostly, we’re looking forward to sitting at Duan’s bar in Woburn – and finding things just as they were. We’ll relish the distinct impression that this whole story might never have happened.
[Media Farm is wrangled by DigBoston News + Features Editor Chris Faraone]