Monday, February 19, 2007

The Wages of Sin, Journalism Division

The Herald: The news Tom Brady's ex-girlfriend is pregnant and says the Pats' quarterback is the father is more proof, were any needed, my former employer is in dire straits.

The fervently tabloid Herald has two gossip columnists who've written more about Brady than have some of its sports columnists. When Tom and Bridget Moynahan were an item, Gayle and Laura gave devout coverage to Ms. Moynahan's C-list Hollywood, career, too (it's been awhile since "I, Robot", dear).

And yet, when Moynahan decided to leak the news of her upcoming blessed event to a few billion of her closest and dearest friends, she went straight to the New York Post. The juiciest possible story about Boston's biggest sports star, and Moynahan didn't give a thought to the Herald, because even when it comes to local scandal, the Herald just doesn't matter enough to be worth her while.

The Globe: It's starting to look as if the Times' corporation's business plan for New England is just to drive their billion-dollar lemon out of business and start over. How else to explain the decision to put a second-day story on Brady's plight above the fold as the top story in today's paper?

It's a good thing the Globe ombudsman's job is still vacant. He or she would've had a nervous breakdown answering the phone this morning. The paper which once famously censored Doonesbury for showing a man and woman sharing the same bed is now trying to compete with the Herald on the tawdry tabloid beat? No good can come of that.

There's a tabloid side of life sure enough. When it pops up in New England, sensible readers turn to the Herald. The tabloid sensibility isn't as easy as it looks. It takes fierce discipline for Gayle and Laura to pretend our town's local wheels are actual celebrities instead of regional Babbitts.

People buy the Globe to AVOID the tabloid side of life. If you're the high-minded, boring broadsheet you've got to be true to the identity your readers have created for you. When you're not, you alienate far more of your old customers than any new ones you might create.

Was the Brady-Moynahan flap news? Oh, my yes. Was it Page One news. For the Herald, sure. For the Globe, no way. Seeing the story in the upper left front of my paper this morning was embarrassing, like seeing an old friend with a new toupee.

It's this simple, braintrust of Morrissey Blvd. If scandal and putting big pictures of sports stars on page one were the formula for selling papers, then the Herald would already be bigger than you are.


Post a Comment

<< Home