Hexit Watch™: Mark Garfinkel Shuttered at Herald

Photojournalist extraordinaire Mark Garfinkel posted this melancholy tweet on his Twitter feed this morning. (Tip o’ the pixel to the redoubtable Dan Kennedy via Facebook.)

Jack Sullivan at CommonWealth Magazine has the gory details about Garfinkel – and others.

More cuts at the Herald

Tabloid lays off two photographers, half the sports desk

THE STRUGGLING BOSTON HERALD laid off about 20 more staffers Thursday, including at least two award-winning veteran photographers for a tabloid that thrives on pictures . . .

Calls to several Herald officials, including editor Joe Sciacca, were not returned. Beyond the photo department, it’s unclear who else was laid off. Sources said five people on the nine-person sports copy desk were let go.

Sullivan goes on to tote up the damage since Digital Fist – sorry, First – Media bought the  shaky local tabloid: “Since February, when Digital First took over, the paper has lost more than half of the 225 people who worked there, with about 110 employees, including an estimated 12 news reporters, remaining before Thursday’s cuts.”

The outsourcing caused by those cuts has become increasingly apparent. Two months ago, the Boston Business Journal reported [subscription required] that “Digital First Media, the parent company of the Boston Herald, is laying off nine advertising representatives at the paper in what’s being called a ‘consolidation’ of the department with others at the company.”

On Tuesday, this ad appeared in the shrinky local tabloid.

Adtaxi is Digital First’s clearinghouse for ad placement, which describes itself with gobbledygook like this:

Taking an omnichannel approach, Adtaxi offers a true full-funnel solution powered by our intelligent optimization technology, Quantum, that drives performance to the conversion metrics that matter most to your business.

A Herald sales rep wouldn’t be caught dead talking like that.

But a dead paper walking? Sure.

Hexit Watch™: The Herald Itself Leaves the Herald!

Tip o’ the pixel for this one to the Unsinkable Samantha J. Gross.

The memo, via intrepid Boston Herald reporter Brian Dowling.

Got that? Free parking! Convenient shopping! On-site Leanbox (whatever the hell that is)! Amenities! Miles from Boston!

From the predictable Herald Staff report in the bouncing local tabloid today.

“This move will provide a great space for our employees in a facility with many amenities including free parking and easy access to public transportation,” said Herald Publisher Kevin Corrado. “While we are making a physical move that will help sustain our organization in the years to come, our commitment to providing the best news and sports coverage in the Boston market is stronger than ever. We’re excited about the future.”

Translation: This is one more way to save money while we suck the Boston Herald dry, which we’re excited about.

Crosstown, the Boston Globe’s Jeremy C. Fox noted this.

Michael Jonas, the executive editor of CommonWealth magazine, expressed skepticism about the move in a Twitter post.

“Is Braintree where once mighty Boston institutions go to die? First the Archdiocese, now the Herald,” Jonas wrote. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston moved from Brighton to Braintree in 2008 in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

At the Boston Herald, though, it’s a whole nother kind of abuse.

Boston Herald Being Nibbled to Death by Cuts

The hatchet men at Digital First Mishegas are at it again.

As far as we can tell, Boston Herald sports desker Jon Couture broke the news on his Twitter feed Tuesday afternoon.

(Couture later amended the number of editor/designer positions to 29. He also said the outsourcing will roughly coincide with a new Herald website.)

Jack Sullivan provides more details in this piece at CommonWealth Magazine. He also adds this note on Twitter to all those spiking the ball on the shrinky local tabloid.

Amen to that.

Boston Herald Editorial Page To Be Silenced?

When we last left Digital First Mishegas – sorry, Media – last month, the Denver Post editorial board was begging the newspaper group’s owner, New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital, to sell the Post.

Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.

The proximate cause of that plea was a looming 30% cut in the Post’s newsroom – a mystery, the editorial said, “as many [Digital First] newspapers still enjoy double-digit profits and our management reported solid profits as recently as last year.”

How solid?

Rock solid, as media guru Ken Doctor just detailed for Nieman Lab: “DFM reported a 17 percent operating margin — well above those of its peers — in its 2017 fiscal year, along with profits of almost $160 million. That’s the fruit of the repeated cutbacks that have left its own shrinking newsrooms in a state of rebellion.”

This week Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett wrote another piece blowtorching Alden, but that one was rejected, which triggered Plunkett’s resignation.

“I was being boxed in so that I couldn’t speak,” Plunkett told CNN’s Brian Stelter. “How can I be silent at this point?”

Ironically, Plunkett may have silenced every editorial voice at Digital First’s newspapers.

[Plunkett] also said “there is active consideration of doing away with the editorial pages throughout the company.” He means “at all the papers” owned by Digital First Media . . .

That would include the Boston Herald, which coincidentally has just gotten its editorial page sorted out.

As CommonWealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas recently chronicled, after Digital First’s purchase of the Herald, it had no editorial page editor. But then it did.

Tom Shattuck, a former talk radio producer who has run the paper’s online radio station and written op-ed columns, will replace Rachelle Cohen, the paper’s longtime editorial page editor who left last month when Digital First Media took ownership of the Herald.

Except soon, according to Plunkett, he might not.

Put aside any opinions about Shattuck himself, whom Jonas calls “an unwavering cheerleader for President Trump, a sharp departure from the editorial page under Cohen.”

Representative sample: The editorial in today’s smoochy local tabloid under the headline Media distortion hits new lows. Clunky-as-hell lede: “Another week has gone by in which the media covering the president of the United States has committed reckless malpractice more disgraceful than usual.”

People might say no great loss if that voice goes away. Beyond that, there’s exactly zero chance that the shaky local tabloid will ever go scorched-earth on Digital First.

Even so, no editorial voice at the Herald?

That would be just wrong.

Hexit Watch™: Julie Mehegan Goes Gubernatorial

And the beat (feet) goes on . . .

CommonWealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas recently noted another departure from the shrinky local tabloid.

The Herald’s phantom editorial page

Unclear who’s running paper’s opinion page under new ownership

BY ALL OUTWARD appearances, the Boston Herald continues to chug along under its new ownership, with its hard-working reporters churning out solid stories amidst the demoralizing departure of co-workers from the newsroom’s already depleted ranks.

The paper’s editorial page, too, hasn’t skipped a beat, offering up a daily dose of sharp opinion despite the exit nearly three weeks ago of longtime editorial page editor Rachelle Cohen and Julie Mehegan, the deputy editorial page editor, who worked alongside her for more than a decade.

But an intriguing mystery about the paper’s editorials has arisen. Though newspaper editorials are traditionally unsigned, they reflect the views of the editor of the page, who is often listed on a newspaper’s masthead. In the three weeks since Cohen and Mehegan left, however, the masthead has listed no editorial page editor.

The dish: “According to sources familiar with the situation, Cohen was not offered a position but Mehegan was and accepted it, presumably putting her in line to run the editorial page as a solo operation. At the time of the mid-March ownership change, however, Mehegan was offered a communications position with the Baker administration and opted to take it and leave the Herald along with her longtime boss.”

To much applause in the Twitterverse, we might add.

Best of luck, Julie. The Herald’s loss is Charlie Baker’s gain.