Six years ago the New York Times Co. paid more than $1 billion for the Boston Globe, bringing two of the most respected newspapers in the United States under common ownership. But this marquee purchase is ending badly as the Times Co. threatens to close the Globe if its unions fail to make major cost concessions.
This threat has stirred understandable shock, given the Globe's reputation as a newspaper dedicated to journalism that represents the profession's highest ideals. The first order of business for those not directly involved might be considering the best way to fend off the threat, even though some believe it's just a hard-nosed negotiating ploy.
So, it's strange to see the folks at the Huffington Post -- who routinely attract audiences by featuring stories from newspaper web sites -- coming to the conclusion that this is the wrong moment for the Globe to launch a marketing campaign.
This story by the Globe's staff touches on the underlying problem, the risk that more and more people in Boston will decide the paper is not necessary to their lives. This marketing campaign that the Globe launched today shows executives are trying to address that problem.
Of course, marketing alone will not save the Globe. The underlying problem is a large debt and a steep decline in advertising revenue that makes it impossible for the Times Co. to continue paying off the debt.
But it's far from clear that advertising revenue will come back to the Globe when the recession finally ends.
Ad revenue follows readers, not sentiment, and readers in markets like Boston are shifting to new, more convenient media to access the news. Even if readers turn to the Globe's website for news, ad revenues will be much smaller because competition is more intense on the Internet.
Whatever the marketing campaign costs, it probably won't decide the Globe's immediate fate one way or the other. But the last thing the Globe can afford right now is to reduce efforts to attract readers and advertisers.