McGrory: Boston Globe will 'untangle' its two websites
The difference between BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com isn't clear to "many people in this community and people in this newsroom," Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory told Poynter in a phone interview Friday. "That’s understandable," he said.
So Job 1 is "to untangle them," McGrory said, a task that "will involve some pretty strong maneuvers here. We’re going to start removing our in-depth Globe journalism from Boston.com, which is not a small move."
The Globe launched the paywalled BostonGlobe.com in September 2011, offering it as a "true reading experience," as former Globe editor Marty Baron told Poynter's Jeff Sonderman at the time. Boston.com was envisioned as a site for "the more casual audience that may visit infrequently, scan news briefly, or come for shopping or entertainment information rather than journalism," Sonderman wrote.
The free site will remain a destination for breaking news summaries, "more social media, more community bloggers, hopefully edgier content," McGrory said. "Boston.com will be in many ways the front page of Boston. BostonGlobe.com will be the front page of the Boston Globe."
News stories on Boston.com will probably be no longer than 150 words, McGrory said, with the expectation that people who want more will be led to the premium site to "finish it off and pay for it."
The Globe tightened its paywall in late December, Dan Kennedy reported earlier this month, limiting users to two links shared via social media per month. The paper cut the number of free stories on Boston.com from five to four last year, Kennedy wrote.
“We have been trying to find the right balance between the free-sharing culture of the Internet and paid access to premium Globe content," Globe spokesperson Ellen Clegg told him.
The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, reported this month that the paper had "approximately 28,000" paid digital subscribers at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. As at the mothership, circulation revenue is approaching parity with advertising revenue at the New England Media Group, which also includes the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. When added together, revenue from circulation and other sources at the group -- the Globe prints the rival Boston Herald, for instance -- exceeded advertising revenue in 2012.
McGrory and I also talked about his first six or so weeks on the job, a period in which he has stayed "relatively quiet" while meeting with staffers and taking a "crash course on how we get out a newspaper every day." Baron "left this place in pretty terrific shape," he said. "There's no major overhaul needed of our journalism." The paper's foundation is accountability journalism, he said, "and we want more of it."
McGrory said the mix of stories on the front page will be a focus, with plans "to filter in even more enterprise reporting to make the front page a livelier mix," he said. "We need to be every bit the paper of interest in Boston as we are the paper of record."
One area he's looking to beef up is arts coverage. The paper plans to hire a reporter -- not a book critic, he stressed -- to cover Boston's literary scene, which he said is particularly vibrant. He's also encouraged the arts desk, whose critics he praised at length, "to take an even more national approach to what they do," encouraging them to "range out of Boston" when necessary.
But the paper's coverage overall will continue to center on Boston and New England, an area he says no other outlet can cover the way the Globe can.
McGrory wrote a column for the paper before getting the nod as editor, and he told me, "My great hope is that once I get adjusted, I will do some occasional writing for the paper."
Just before news of his new job broke, McGrory's book "Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man," was published. McGrory learned to live with the titular beast when he moved in with its owner, to whom he's now married. "The rooster, thank God, is dead," he told me. He added: "Monetizing that rooster was the most significant accomplishment of my literary life."