At last, the put-upon Boston Globe has found a New York Times Company policy it can go along with: On March 19, as many as 30 staffers applied for 19 buyout slots, according to multiple sources at the newspaper.
The names on editor Martin Baron’s desk were expected to include business columnist Steven Bailey and Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter Stephen Kurkjian.
Mr. Baron declined to comment on his timetable or on how many staffers had submitted paperwork.
“I’ll make the decision in consultation with the appropriate people,” Mr. Baron said.
It’s been 14 years now since the Times Company bought The Globe, spending $1.3 billion. Instead of Northeastern regional synergy, the result has been mutual disappointment—and an ever more newspaper-colonialist management style.
In January, the Times Company wrote down the New England Media Group—which includes The Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette—by $814 million and announced that 125 jobs needed to be cut from the two newspapers. Besides the 19 editorial cuts—17 in the newsroom and two on the opinion side—55 jobs in advertising and finance at The Globe are due to be outsourced to Bangalore.
And while the business jobs are going abroad, journalism jobs are being brought home. Also in January, Mr. Baron announced that the paper would be closing its last three foreign bureaus: the Jerusalem-based Middle East bureau, Berlin and Bogotá.
In case the paper’s four foreign correspondents would rather not cover Woburn, the Times foreign desk has already spoken to them about possible positions, according to a Times source with knowledge of the newspaper’s hiring practices. The potential poaching targets are the Berlin bureau’s Colin Nickerson, Bogotá’s Indira Lakshmanan and the Middle East–based husband-and-wife team of Anne Barnard and Thanassis Cambanis.
Back in the Bay State, staffers with 10 years’ seniority at the newspaper were informed that they were eligible for buyouts some six weeks ago. Globe sources said the terms were similar to those offered 18 months ago, when employees accepted packages ranging from about $150,000 to $200,000.
While that buyout met its target, the new one is oversubscribed. A Globe staffer said that reporters and editors are losing confidence in the newspaper’s future under the Times Company, and that they feel this might be the last chance to take a buyout for several more years.
The sense of encroachment grew stronger on March 14, when a story from the West Bank appeared in The Globe with a New York Times Wire Service tagline. The article was by Times reporter Steven Erlanger, himself a former Globe reporter. The following day, the Boston Phoenix’s Web site noted that it had been the first use of Times wire copy in The Globe’s news pages.
The Globe has been occasionally running Rob Walker’s “Consumed” column, which originates in the Times Magazine, since July 2006. But till this month, though The Globe had used foreign stories from The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and even the Times-owned International Herald Tribune, Times news copy had been off-limits.
On Feb. 8, when Times Company C.E.O. Janet Robinson and Globe publisher Steve Ainsley held a town meeting at the paper, a staffer raised the prospect of using Times wire copy in The Globe. At that time, Mr. Ainsley said that he didn’t see any reason not to, but that it would be strictly a newsroom decision, according to several staffers who were present.
Two weeks later, Mr. Baron spoke to Globe staffers, principally about the buyouts, but also to discuss the use of Times stories.
“A few years ago, [using Times copy] was such a big debate,” one staffer said. “But now so much is happening here that it just got overshadowed by the general tumult.”