Legal Journo Bob McGovern Vacates Boston Herald

Well the sadreading staff was leafing through this morning’s Boston Herald when we came upon the paper’s double-barreled coverage of the Supreme Court’s sports betting payout.

Strange, we thought – no Bob McGovern, the feisty local tabloid’s legal-eagle columnist. So we hied us to his Twitter feed and found this profile.

We also came upon this tweet from three days ago.

So, gone like a cool breeze.

McGovern also tweeted  a link to this piece he posted on Medium, which tells the tale of more than just his own departure from the shrinky local tabloid.

“If you’re looking for something sugar coated, buy a donut”

Nate Dow edited copy at the sports desk as the Boston Herald newsroom filled with people nervously waiting for a surprise all-staff meeting called by publisher Pat Purcell.

Nate doesn’t work there anymore.

The two sports editors he worked under are gone, too.

Our entire editorial page staff vanished, and so did our cartoonist. Jeff Howe, a fan-favorite Patriots writer, took his talents elsewhere, and our entire business section now consists of the very talented Jordan Graham.

We lost four news editors, our veteran police reporter and a kickass photographer. At one point the Herald encompassed two floors — now advertising and editorial are separated by a little more than 77 inches of carpet.

The piece got even more depressing from there, detailing a thoroughly dehumanizing process of culling the herd. What’s left is a joyless shell of the Herald’s former self.

It should be required reading for every working journalist in the region, especially for McGovern’s depiction of how the paper’s dismantling was totally ignored by virtually every other local media outlet.

As the bankruptcy proceedings moved along, the Herald was the only media organization in the city to cover it properly. Brian Dowling did great work on the story — often hounding Pat and his lawyers — and yet no one asked him to come and talk about the process.

The media critics never even asked for his number. If the Globe was facing the same situation, and one of its fine journalists was doing the same brave reporting, I think you would be able to hear about it on WBUR or WGBH.

Maybe there wasn’t any interest, or perhaps other outlets don’t have the resources to spare. It may have something to do with the fact that Boston media beef has no sell-by date.

It’s still the case. And it’s still a shanda.

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.

Hexit Watch™: Shelly Cohen Drifts to Boston Globe

After the sadreading staff noted yesterday the exodus from the Boston Herald of sports scribes Jeff Howe (to parts as yet unknown) and Chad Jennings (to The Athletic Boston) , the irrepressible Alex Beam tweeted this at us.

Indeed, we had missed this op-ed column by former Herald editorial page editor Rachelle (actually Shelly-one-e) Cohen in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

Befriending the stranger

As the snow melts and the days grow longer, this is — or should be — the season of welcoming the stranger.

For millennia, Jews around the world have marked the exodus from Egypt at Passover Seders — a celebration of that long journey from slavery to freedom. But even more so, a time to recall that equally ancient admonition: “You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

It’s not as easy these days to “befriend the stranger” — not when executive orders are being thrashed out in federal courts, not when immigrants are afraid to show up for routine status hearings lest they be summarily detained, and not when the promise of freedom from oppression is ever more elusive.

Very nice.

So – for those of you keeping score at home – that makes two defectors from the scanty local tabloid to the stately local broadsheet: The abovementioned Shelly Cohen and the aforementioned Matt Stout.

Not to mention more, no doubt, to come.

Hexit Watch™: Shelly Cohen’s Long Goodbye

Latest in what we expect will be an endless stream

The redoubtable Rachelle Cohen – longtime Boston Herald journalist, most recently as Editorial Page Editor – sang her swan song in yesterday’s edition, marking yet another milestone for the feisty local tabloid.

The Boston Herald I knew, whose death has been prematurely reported for decades, and on whose masthead my name has appeared for the last several of those decades, will sometime Monday be under new ownership. That is, in its own way, a good thing.

As an institution in this community it will live on; it will continue to vigorously compete in the marketplace of journalism because the people who have labored here — and those who will continue to do so — actually don’t know how to operate any other way.

Owners and editors have come and gone, but the abiding spirit of this place has always been a little different — and more than a little quirky.

(Amen to that – we hope. Then again, there’s that wrecking ball new Herald owner Digital First Media has just taken to the Denver Post, which we noted yesterday.)

As is fitting and proper, Shelly also received an admiring tweetoff on the interwebs.

All best wherever you land next, Shelly. They’ll be lucky to have you.