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.

Boston Herald Circulation Down by 1/3rd in 3 Years

The shrinky local tabloid has experienced knee-buckling drops in circulation over the past three years, according to Don Seifert’s piece in today’s Boston Business Journal (tip o’ the pixel to the redoubtable Dan Kennedy).

Boston Herald print circulation sees biggest drop in three years

The Boston Herald’s weekday print circulation saw a bigger drop in the first three months of 2018, as measured from the previous quarter, than it’s seen in at least the past three years.

The newspaper’s weekday average print circulation fell to 40,914 during the first quarter of 2018, according to a report the Herald filed this week with the Alliance for Audited Media.

That’s a drop in circulation of nearly 3,200 subscribers — about 7.2 percent — from the fourth quarter of 2017. It marks the largest three-month decline in the paper’s weekday print circulation since at least 2015.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the big picture is even bleaker. “Over three years, the paper’s weekday print circulation has decreased by 19,145, or 32 percent. That’s nearly twice as much as the 17 percent decline the Boston Globe has seen from the beginning of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2017, the most recent quarter for which AAM has data.”

So, to recap: The Globe is in decline, the Herald’s in free fall. That can’t be good news for Digital First Media. But it’s even worse news for the remaining staffers at the shaky local tabloid.

Boston Herald Held Hostage, Day One

Digital First Media (slogan: “Where Newspapers Go to Die”) officially took possession of the Boston Herald yesterday. As the redoubtable Dan Kennedy noted at Media Nation, the takeover was preceded by this memo last week.

Nice, eh?

Now come the reports of the takeover in the local dailies, and the one in the soldy local tabloid sure reads like a press release – and not just because it’s bylined “Herald Staff.”

Digital First Media takes the helm of the Boston Herald

Digital First Media, one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States, completed the acquisition of the Boston Herald yesterday.

The Boston Herald’s roots date to 1846, when it was a single two-sided sheet of news published by a group of Boston printers. In more recent times, the media company has been anchored by the 64,500-circulation Herald, known for its eye-catching Page 1 photos and headlines, with a loyal online following at BostonHerald.com.

“DFM is pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the Boston Herald through the next chapter of its storied history. The Herald is integral to the fabric of the great city of Boston,” said Guy Gilmore, DFM’s chief operating officer.

That last part remains to be seen. The rest of the puff piece is pretty standard boilerplate , except for this ominous note: “[Digital First’s] Adtaxi Digital agency is an in-house, client-centric digital agency that brings scale, precision and sophistication to digital marketing. Adtaxi helps advertisers solve complex marketing challenges with custom, performance-driven solutions.”

Ads in sheep’s clothing, in other words.

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, Jon Chesto has – not surprisingly – a very different take.

Herald in hedge fund firm’s hands

Digital First completes purchase, more cuts feared

 

When Pat Purcell acquired the Boston Herald in 1994, the deal came with the hopes that local ownership would ensure the long-term survival of Boston’s No. 2 daily newspaper.

That survival will now depend on a new owner, a New York hedge fund firm, and not the man who led the Herald for much of his career in the news business.

Digital First Media, which is owned by Alden Global Capital and also does business as MediaNews Group, completed its acquisition of the Herald Monday after beating rival GateHouse Media last month with a nearly $12 million bid in a bankruptcy auction.

Chesto also had a very different number for the Herald’s circulation. “Nearly two-thirds of its roughly 45,000 daily print sales are single-copy purchases as opposed to subscriptions, according to Alliance for Audited Media data.”

That’s a pretty big drop from the 64,500 “in more recent times” the Herald piece claims. Is two or three years ago really “recent”?

Regardless, we wish the Heraldniks all the best, or certainly better than their new brethren at the Denver Post, which Digital First is currently dismantling in slow motion.

If it’s lucky, the shaky local tabloid just might dodge that bullet.

More Monkey Bidness at the Shaky Local Tabloid

For those of you keeping score at home, there’s now another suitor – and potentially more ominous news – for the beleaguered Boston Herald.

Brian Dowling reported in today’s edition that a possible third bidder is kicking the tires on Fargo Street.

Digital First may put bid on paper

Digital First Media is interviewing editors at the Boston Herald in connection with a potential bid to buy the newspaper.

Mike Burbach, an editor at the Pioneer Press in Minnesota, a Digital First publication, told managers at the Herald yesterday in an email from his newspaper account that he and other representatives of MNG-BH Acquisition LLC will be “coming to your offices” this coming week to conduct interviews.

Dowling also notes that “Digital First owns two daily newspapers in Massachusetts: the Lowell Sun and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise.”

That would be the same Sentinel & Enterprise the Boston Business Journal just reported is going virtual.

Fitchburg daily newspaper to eliminate brick-and-mortar newsroom

Next month, for the first time in 180 years, the daily Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise may no longer have a physical office in Fitchburg.

The newspaper, which is owned by Denver, Colorado-based Digital First Media, is switching to what it’s calling a “virtual newsroom” model by the end of February or sooner. Jim Campanini, editor of the Sentinel and Enterprise and the Lowell Sun, told the Business Journal in an interview that the plan is intended to save money, but that the paper is in no danger of closing entirely. In fact, he boasted that the paper just hired a new reporter as well as two videographers.

“It’s our time to create this model of innovation,” Campanini told the BBJ’s Don Seiffert. “I look upon this as discovery. We’re explorers, really.”

Swell. But do they have a compass?

Regardless, the redoubtable Dan Kennedy of Media Nation told the BBJ he’s heard worse ideas. “Cutting rent is certainly better than cutting staff,” he said in an email.

The question is, if Digital First buys the Herald, would Fargo Street become a teardown too?