SBD/February 21, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Red Sox' John Henry Aims To "Save The Globe" Through Niche Strategy, Increased Ad Revenue

Henry has promised unbiased coverage since purchasing the newspaper
Red Sox Owner JOHN HENRY since officially taking over the Boston Globe in October has "plunged into his new role," according to Jason Schwartz of BOSTON MAGAZINE. Schwartz: "The question is, what will Henry’s experiments be? And in the face of historic challenges, will they be enough to save the Globe?" Globe Editor BRIAN MCGRORY said that he "hears from Henry regularly." One Monday after a Patriots game "early in Henry’s reign, the new owner walked into McGrory’s office, sat down, and started thumbing through the Sports section" before asking why there were not more ads. McGrory and his fellow editors soon after "launched a new Patriots recap section called 'Score' -- with more space for big, eye-catching photos, and hopefully greater appeal to advertisers." Henry said that his only conflict of interest as owner of the Globe "resides 'in the sports pages.'" But Schwartz notes Henry's Fenway Sports Group has "broad business dealings that bear attention." Henry and McGrory have "promised unbiased coverage, though proof of that can only come with time." One Globe reporter said, "Judge us when something really explosive happens in the Red Sox clubhouse."

RICHES THROUGH NICHES? Schwartz notes even before Henry hired Exec VP ANDREW PERLMUTTER, the Globe was "heading toward a strategy of creating niche sites," and under Henry the "push has been accelerated." The Globe's "next move is more ambitious, and draws more on Boston’s natural resources." It is a "standalone tech site, internally being called BetaBoston," which McGrory "expects to launch soon." BetaBoston will "exist as a separate entity from the Globe and Boston.com." The Globe also hopes to "launch a standalone Catholic news site," headlined by newly hired Associate Editor JOHN ALLEN and "covering local, national, and international churches." Allen said, "It’s in a very conceptual stage." He added that although the project has "been floated publicly only as a possibility ... it’s what sold him on leaving the National Catholic Reporter," where he had worked since '97. Henry "believes there’s no reason that Boston’s paper of record can’t be as influential as the city itself." He has "approved the expansion of the Globe’s highly regarded Ideas section, hoping to draw more smart voices from the city’s vast intellectual plant into the paper." Newsnomics analyst KEN DOCTOR "believes that the Globe’s niche strategy is a smart and creative play" (BOSTON MAGAZINE, 3/'14 issue).
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