Saturday, April 04, 2009

Losing the Globe?

I grew up reading The Boston Globe. Or at least I grew up during my formative newspaper years -- from junior high onward, when my stepfather came into the picture and brought the paper home early every morning from his pre-work coffee run, thus broadening my horizons each morning from the tiny and provincial local newspapers that graced Newport, New Hampshire -- reading the Globe. I placed particular emphasis in those early years on the Globe sports section, which was hands down the best in the country.

So it is with fear and trepidation that I read this morning that the Globe's corporate overlord, The New York Times Company, is demanding $20 million in concessions from the myriad unions that serve in production and distribution of the Globe or else shuttering the paper is a very real possibility. Some of these concessions are surely necessary. But I cannot help but think that at least some represent an attempt to squeeze labor during difficult times knowing full well that if things do return to something resmebling prosperity, the workers will not get back what they give up.

The loss of the Globe would feel like a personal tragedy, but also would represent the most significant newspaper loss so far. Maybe the era of the newspaper, so seemingly permanent for so long, really is ending. Maybe in ten years we really will get all of our news from the internet, and that those newspapers that do survive will do so in a solely or primarily web-based form. But I hope not. The web offers many things that atraditional newspaper cannot, but so too does the paper-and-ink version offer pleasures that even the most user-friendly technology cannot replicate. I am crossing my fingers that the Globe will emerge from this current crisis.

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