The latest news from The New York Times Co. is that it will not file to close the Boston Globe, as it threatened to on Sunday night amid stymied talks with various newspaper guilds in Boston. The Globe gets a reprieve — but for how long? And at what cost?
The New York Times Co. could still close the Globe at a later date. Alternatively, the Times Co. could continue making cost (and job) cuts elsewhere, or it could sell the Globe into another unknown future. None of these choices are optimal.
Closing the Globe would be the latest — and one of the largest — in a long string of journalistic tragedies. Not only would the Times Co. be out 324,000 daily readers, but the people of Boston would be out of choices, left only with the Boston Herald for daily news. Sure, cost must be taken into account in making these decisions, but does the fact that the Globe is an institution mean nothing?
The same question could be asked about the alternatives. Selling the Globe could just mean someone else would shut it down, or that it would be hacked and molded into something we hardly recognized.
And there’s still the possibility that the Times Co. could do a little more hacking and molding of its own. Is a Web-only Globe in our future? Or a Boston-focused weekly insert in the Times? The real problem is that no one seems to know. Even if the Times Co. gets the cuts for which it’s asking, things cannot hold as they are.
I feel like I write this in every editorial, but the Times Co. and its brethren across the industry need a new game plan. If cutting costs buys the company enough time and savings to launch a new, successful business model, so be it. The Globe has the opportunity now to be either a leader in the new newspaper industry or the sign of darker days to come. I hope it’s the former.