The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe is an American daily newspaper founded and based in Boston, Massachusetts. The newspaper has won a total of 26 Pulitzer Prizes, and had a weekday circulation of 92,820 during the final three months of 2019.[2] The Boston Globe is the oldest and largest daily newspaper in Boston.[3]

Founded in 1872, the paper was mainly controlled by Irish Catholic interests before being sold to Charles H. Taylor and his family. After being privately held until 1973, it was sold to The New York Times in 1993 for $1.1 billion, making it one of the most expensive print purchases in U.S. history.[4] The newspaper was purchased in 2013 by Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. owner John W. Henry for $70 million from The New York Times Company, having lost over 90% of its value in 20 years.

The newspaper has been noted as "one of the nation's most prestigious papers."[4] In 1967, The Boston Globe became the first major paper in the U.S. to come out against the Vietnam War.[5] The paper's 2002 coverage of the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal received international media attention and served as the basis for the 2015 American drama film Spotlight.[3]

The chief print rival of The Boston Globe is the Boston Herald, which has a smaller circulation that is declining more rapidly.[6] The editor of The Boston Globe is Brian McGrory, who took the helm in December 2012.[7][8]

An advertisement for The Boston Globe from 1896, boasting of the largest circulation of any newspaper in New England

The Boston Globe was founded in 1872 by six Boston businessmen who jointly invested $150,000 (equivalent to $3,240,417 in 2020).[1] The founders included Eben Dyer Jordan of the Jordan Marsh department store, and Cyrus Wakefield of the Wakefield Rattan Company and namesake of the town of Wakefield, Massachusetts.[9]:3–5 The first issue was published on March 4, 1872, and sold for four cents (equivalent to $0.86 in 2020).[1] In August 1873, Jordan hired Charles H. Taylor as temporary business manager; in December, Taylor signed a contract to be general manager of the paper for two years.[1] He would serve as the first publisher of The Boston Globe until his death in 1921, and was succeeded by four of his descendants until 1999.

Originally a morning daily, the Globe began a Sunday edition in 1877. A weekly edition called The Boston Weekly Globe, catering to mail subscribers outside the city, was published from 1873 until being absorbed by the Sunday edition in 1892.[10][9]:101 In 1878, The Boston Globe started an afternoon edition called The Boston Evening Globe, which ceased publication in 1979. By the 1890s, The Boston Globe had become a stronghold, with an editorial staff dominated by Irish American Catholics.[11]

In 1912, the Globe was one of a cooperative of four newspapers, including the Chicago Daily News, The New York Globe, and the Philadelphia Bulletin, to form the Associated Newspapers syndicate.

In the 1940 Massachusetts gubernatorial election, the Globe correctly projected the re-election of Republican incumbent Leverett Saltonstall, using methods first established by Charles H. Taylor; rival The Boston Post called the race incorrectly for Democrat Paul A. Dever.[12]

In 1955, Laurence L. Winship was named editor, ending a 75-year period of the role being held by the paper's publishers.[9]:447 In the next decade, the Globe rose from third to first in the competitive field of what was then eight Boston newspapers.[13]

In 1958, the Globe moved from its original location on Washington Street in downtown Boston to Morrissey Boulevard in the Dorchester neighborhood.[14]

In 1965, Thomas Winship succeeded his father as editor. The younger Winship transformed the Globe from a mediocre local paper into a regional paper of national distinction. He served as editor until 1984, during which time the paper won a dozen Pulitzer Prizes, the first in the paper's history.[15]

The Boston Globe was a private company until 1973 when it went public under the name Affiliated Publications. It continued to be managed by the descendants of Charles H. Taylor. In 1993, The New York Times Company purchased Affiliated Publications for US$1.1 billion, making The Boston Globe a wholly owned subsidiary of The New York Times' parent.[16][17] The Jordan and Taylor families received substantial The New York Times Company stock, but by 1999 the last Taylor family members had left management.[18]

Boston.com, the online edition of The Boston Globe, was launched on the World Wide Web in 1995.[19] Consistently ranked among the top ten newspaper websites in America,[20] it has won numerous national awards and took two regional Emmy Awards in 2009 for its video work.[21]

The Boston Globe has consistently been ranked in the forefront of American journalism. Time magazine listed it as one of the ten best US daily newspapers in 1974 and 1984, and the Globe tied for sixth in a national survey of top editors who chose "America's Best Newspapers" in the Columbia Journalism Review in 1999.[22]

Under the helm of editor Martin Baron and then Brian McGrory, the Globe shifted away from coverage of international news in favor of Boston-area news.[23] Globe reporters Michael Rezendes, Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer and Walter Robinson and editor Ben Bradlee Jr. were an instrumental part of uncovering the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in 2001–2003, especially in relation to Massachusetts churches. They were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their work, one of several the paper has received for its investigative journalism,[24] and their work was dramatized in the 2015 Academy Award-winning film Spotlight, named after the paper's in-depth investigative division.[25]

The Boston Globe is credited[by whom?] with allowing Peter Gammons to start his Notes section on baseball, which has become a mainstay in many major newspapers nationwide. In 2004, Gammons was selected as the 56th recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for outstanding baseball writing, given by the BBWAA, and was honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 31, 2005.[26]

In 2007, Charlie Savage, whose reports on President Bush's use of signing statements made national news, won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.[27]

As of 2010, the Globe hosted 28 blogs covering a variety of topics including Boston sports, local politics, and a blog made up of posts from the paper's opinion writers.[28]

On April 2, 2009, The New York Times Company threatened to close the paper if its unions did not agree to $20 million of cost savings.[29][30] Some of the cost savings include reducing union employees' pay by 5%, ending pension contributions, ending certain employees' tenures.[29][30] The Boston Globe eliminated the equivalent of 50 full-time jobs; among buy-outs and layoffs, it swept out most of the part-time employees in the editorial sections. However, early on the morning of May 5, 2009, The New York Times Company announced it had reached a tentative deal with the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents most of the Globe's editorial staff, that allowed it to get the concessions it demanded. The paper's other three major unions had agreed to concessions on May 3, 2009, after The New York Times Company threatened to give the government 60-days notice that it intended to close the paper.[31] Despite the cuts helping to "significantly [improve]" its financial performance by October of that year, the Globe's parent company indicated that it was considering strategic alternatives for the paper, but did not plan to sell it.[32]

In September 2011, The Boston Globe launched a dedicated, subscription-based website at bostonglobe.com.[33]

Starting in 2012, the Globe provided a printing and circulating service for the Boston Herald, and by 2013 was handling its rival's entire press run.[3] This arrangement remained in place until 2018, ending after the acquisition of the Herald by Digital First Media.[34]

In February 2013, The New York Times Company announced that it would sell its New England Media Group, which encompasses the Globe; bids were received by six parties, of them included John Gormally (then-owner of WGGB-TV in Springfield, Massachusetts), another group included members of former Globe publishers, the Taylor family, and Boston Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry, who bid for the paper through the New England Sports Network (majority owned by Fenway Sports Group alongside the Boston Bruins). However, after the NESN group dropped out of the running to buy the paper, Henry made his own separate bid to purchase the Globe in July 2013.[35][36] On October 24, 2013, he took ownership of the Globe, at a $70 million purchase price,[37][38] and renamed the venture Boston Globe Media. On January 30, 2014, Henry named himself publisher and named Mike Sheehan, a prominent former Boston ad executive, to be CEO.[39] As of January 2017, Doug Franklin replaced Mike Sheehan as CEO,[40] then Franklin resigned after six months in the position, in July 2017, as a result of strategic conflicts with owner Henry.[41]

In July 2016, the 815,000-square-foot headquarters located in Dorchester was sold to an unknown buyer for an undisclosed price.[42] The Globe moved its printing operations in June 2017 to Myles Standish Industrial Park in Taunton, Massachusetts. Also in June 2017, the Globe moved its headquarters to Exchange Place in Boston's Financial District.[43]

Starting with the Sunday edition in 1891,[9]:75 and expanded to weekday editions in 1913,[9]:176 each lead editorial in the Globe was signed "Uncle Dudley", a practice ended by editor Thomas Winship in 1966.[44][45]

In March 1980, the Globe published an editorial about a speech by President Jimmy Carter, which included the accidental headline "Mush from the Wimp" during part of the press run, drawing national attention.[46]

Since 1981, the editorial pages of the Globe have been separate from the news operation,[47] as is frequently customary in the news industry. Editorials represent the official view of The Boston Globe as a community institution. The publisher reserves the right to veto an editorial and usually determines political endorsements for high office.[48]

The Globe made its first political endorsement in 1967, supporting Kevin White in that year's Boston mayoral election.[49] The Globe has consistently endorsed Democratic presidential candidates,[50] most recently Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election,[51] and Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.[52]

Describing the political position of The Boston Globe in 2001, former editorial page editor Renée Loth told the Boston University alumni magazine:

The Globe has a long tradition of being a progressive institution, and especially on social issues. We are pro-choice; we're against the death penalty; we're for gay rights. But if people read us carefully, they will find that on a whole series of other issues, we are not knee-jerk. We're for charter schools; we're for any number of business-backed tax breaks. We are a lot more nuanced and subtle than that liberal stereotype does justice to.[53]

Ellen Clegg, a long-time Globe journalist and former top spokeswoman for the newspaper, was named editor of the editorial page in 2015.[54] Clegg retired in 2019, and was succeeded by Bina Venkataraman.[55]

In August 2018, the editorial board launched a coordinated campaign for newspapers nationwide to respond to President Donald Trump's "enemy of the people" attacks and "fake news" rants against the media by publishing locally produced editorial responses on Thursday, August 16.[56][57] Within a couple of days, an estimated 100+ newspapers had pledged to join the campaign,[58] jumping to roughly 200 a few days later.[59]

On August 13, the Radio Television Digital News Association and its Voice of the First Amendment Task Force encouraged its 1,200 member organizations to join the campaign,[60] while other media organizations also helped spread the call to action.[61] Even as some right-leaning outlets portrayed the Globe's campaign as an attack on the president, rather than his rhetorical attacks on the Fourth Estate,[62][63] some newspapers got a head start, releasing content on August 15,[64][65][66] while 350 newspapers participated in the event on August 16.[67][68]

From August 10 to 22, approximately 14 threatening phone calls were made to Boston Globe offices.[69][70][71] The caller stated that the Globe was the "enemy of the people" and threatened to kill newspaper employees.[72] On August 30, California resident Robert Chain was arrested by an FBI SWAT team and charged with a single count of making a threatening communication in interstate commerce.[72] In May 2019, Chain pleaded guilty in a US federal court to seven counts of making threatening communications in interstate commerce.[73]

Appearing in the Sunday paper almost every week is The Boston Globe Magazine. As of 2018, Veronica Chao is the editor, and contributors include Neil Swidey and Meredith Goldstein.

Since 2004, the December issue features a Bostonian of the Year.[74] Past winners include Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein (2004), retired judge and Big Dig whistleblower Edward Ginsburg (2005), governor Deval Patrick (2006), Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America founder and CEO Bruce Marks (2007), NBA champion Paul Pierce (2008), professor Elizabeth Warren (2009), Republican politician Scott Brown (2010), U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz and ArtsEmerson executive director Robert Orchard[75] (2011), Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Kayla Harrison (2012),[76] three people who were near the Boston Marathon bombing, Dan Marshall, Natalie Stavas, and Larry Hittinger (2013),[77] Market Basket employees (2014),[78] and neuropathologist Ann McKee (2017).[79]

On October 23, 2006, The Boston Globe announced the publication of Design New England: The Magazine of Splendid Homes and Gardens. This glossy oversized magazine is published six times per year.[80]

The Globe uses "editor" as the highest title (other newspapers may call this role editor-in-chief).[102] The role of editor was held by three people in the earliest years of the paper, then from 1880 to 1955 by the publishers.[9]:447 The extended period of a publisher-editor ended in 1955, when Laurence L. Winship was named editor by publisher William Davis Taylor.[103][9]:447 Winship became the paper's top editor following the death of James Morgan, longtime de facto executive editor.[104] Morgan had joined the Globe in January 1884, hired by Charles H. Taylor.[105][9]:46

In 1998, columnist Patricia Smith was forced to resign after it was discovered that she had fabricated people and quotations in several of her columns.[107] In August of that year, columnist Mike Barnicle was discovered to have copied material for a column from a George Carlin book, Brain Droppings. He was suspended for this offense, and his past columns were reviewed. The Boston Globe editors found that Barnicle had fabricated a story about two cancer patients, and Barnicle was forced to resign.[108] Columnist Jeff Jacoby was suspended by the Globe in 2000 for failing to credit non-original content used in his column.[109]

In 2004, the Globe apologized for printing graphic photographs that the article represented as showing U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women during the Iraq War from a city councilor's presentation before they were verified. The photos had already been found by other news organizations to be from an internet pornography site.[110][111]

In the spring of 2005, the Globe retracted a story describing the events of a seal hunt near Halifax, Nova Scotia, that took place on April 12, 2005. Written by freelancer Barbara Stewart, a former The New York Times staffer, the article described the specific number of boats involved in the hunt and graphically described the killing of seals and the protests that accompanied it. In reality, weather had delayed the hunt, which had not yet begun the day the story had been filed, proving that the details were fabricated.[112][113]

Columnist Kevin Cullen was suspended by the Globe in 2018 for fabricating stories related to the Boston Marathon bombing.[114]

The Boston Globe maintains two distinct major websites: BostonGlobe.com is a subscriber-supported site with a paywall and content from the printed paper; and Boston.com, one of the first regional news portals,[115] is supported by advertising. Between September 2011 and March 2014, the Globe gradually withdrew stories written by Globe journalists from Boston.com, making the sites more and more separated.[116] BostonGlobe.com was designed to emphasize a premium experience focusing on content and emulating the visual appearance of The Boston Globe newspaper; the site was one of the first major websites to use a responsive design which automatically adapts its layout to a device's screen size. Boston.com followed suit in 2014. The two sites are aimed towards different readers; while Boston.com became targeted towards "casual" readers and local content, the new Boston Globe website is targeted towards the audience of the paper itself.[117][118][119]

In 2012, the Society for News Design selected BostonGlobe.com as the world's best-designed news website.[120]

In December 2016, the Globe reported a total of 72,889 "restricted digital access" subscriptions and this grew to 90,440 by the end of June in 2017. In a memo to the Globe staff on New Year's Eve of 2017, editor Brian McGrory said the newspaper was closing in on 95,000 digital subscribers and would pass the 100,000 mark in the first half of 2018. Globe spokeswoman Jane Bowman later confirmed that the Globe had reached the 100,000 goal. McGrory has stated in the recent past that reaching 200,000 digital subscribers would make the Globe self-sustaining.[121]

Boston Globe Media Partners, which owns the Globe, operates a number of websites covering certain niche subjects. The sites share many resources, like office space, with the Globe, but are often branded separately from the newspaper:

Crux was launched by the Globe in September 2014 to focus on news related to the Catholic Church.[116][123][124] At the end of March 2016, The Globe ended its association with Crux, transferring ownership of the website to the Crux staff. With John L. Allen Jr. as the new editor, Crux received sponsorship from the Knights of Columbus and several Catholic dioceses.[124][125][126]

Stat, launched in 2015, covers health, medicine and life sciences, with a particular focus on the biotechnology industry based in and around Boston. Stat employs journalists in Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco.[127]