Even the most universally recognized brands must evolve to appeal to new and diverse audiences. Few industries have experienced rapid change as much as the news business. The Boston Globe and its corporate entity, Boston Globe Media, continue adjusting to economic, societal and technological challenges by evolving how they report and deliver the news and expanding geographically and technologically to serve its loyal readers and reach today’s more diverse audiences.
The Boston Globe’s transformation started when John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, purchased the newspaper and its associated businesses from the New York Times Company in 2013. Much of the vision he shares with his wife, Linda Henry — who became Boston Globe Media’s chief executive officer in 2020 — has become a reality. Equally important is finding and choosing the right people to lead the development and implementation of the Globe’s initiatives.
The Globe has focused on building its digital presence for many years, resulting in more than 245,000 digital-only subscribers. To grow that digital presence, Dan Krockmalnic was named executive vice president of New Media and is also the general counsel for Boston Globe Media.
“A younger, more diverse audience is consuming news, information and entertainment in different media. We want our digital platforms to reach people where they are and put in front of all of them our powerful journalism. We will continue to direct people to our core product, The Boston Globe, but also give our existing and new subscribers more ways to enjoy what they already like from us,” Krockmalnic said.
A Nov. 6 press release from Warner Bros. Discovery revealed the vast scope of the Globe's New Media initiatives. A three-part HBO Original documentary, “Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reckoning,” aired on three consecutive Mondays in December. It was produced in association with The Boston Globe. The documentary, as well as a nine-part podcast, will feature original investigative reporting from The Globe about a sensational murder that occurred in Boston several decades ago.
Krockmalnic hinted that another pending press release would reveal a similar collaboration with a major studio in Los Angeles.
The Globe on TV
A very visible initiative is "Boston Globe Today," a 30-minute news broadcast jointly produced with New England Sports Network (NESN) and launched in April 2023. It airs Monday through Friday at 5 p.m., with veteran TV host Segun Oduolowu as the anchor. He and Boston Globe journalists discuss current news topics during the half-hour show. The Friday broadcast is “Boston Globe Today Sports,” with Christopher Gasper, a Globe sports columnist, as host.
"The central premise of the show is to serve as a complement to and not a substitute for the journalism featured in the conversations with Segun and our reporters, editors and columnists. It's meant to give viewers a look behind the scenes, a look at a story from a different angle, a personal angle and sometimes a more analytical angle than the article itself," said Krockmalnic.
He added daily teases for the show appear on TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms to drive people to Globe.com and NESN. For the week of Oct. 23, the show had 165,000 off-platform plays on TikTok and Instagram.
Innovating the newsroom to engage with new audiences
Journalism, of course, is the core of The Globe’s brand and must also evolve as many new initiatives are launched. Jason Tuohey, managing editor of audience and news platforms, and Cynthia Needham, senior assistant managing editor of editorial innovation, have collaborated for many years to determine how to attract new readers and audiences.
“I work in the newsroom as a managing editor, and I'm particularly focused on the Globe and Globe platforms. These include our website, BostonGlobe.com, launched in 2011, our social media and our newsletters. We've become increasingly sophisticated with our apps and how we use push alerts and are experimenting with SMS and text messaging,” Tuohey said.
Needham leads many cross-functional journalism initiatives. She identifies new opportunities, helps reporters and editors evolve how they work and introduces innovations to the newsroom to align with the Globe’s expansion. She also collaborates with Krockmalnic and the New Media team for projects like the HBO documentary.
“One of our biggest changes during the past several years is that many of our colleagues are incredibly excited to share and try new ideas. ‘Boston Globe Today’ is an example. It’s helped to build our multimedia muscle in the process. Our journalists and editors are largely comfortable in front of a camera, which has resulted in them being more comfortable on social media and other audience-driven platforms,” Needham said.
Bringing The Globe’s great journalism to Rhode Island and New Hampshire
One of Needham’s initiatives was launching Globe Rhode Island in 2019. It has grown from a single reporter producing a daily newsletter to seven reporters and a social media director. In 2020, the Globe welcomed back one of its previous writers and editors, Lylah Alphonse, to become the editor of Globe Rhode Island and Globe New Hampshire, launched in 2023.
“The Providence Journal has had a strong presence in Rhode Island, but as resources shifted and coverage changed, we realized there was a genuine need for accountability/investigative journalism, the kind of in-depth reporting Rhode Islanders were no longer receiving from their state’s news source,” Alphonse said.
Alphonse added that the public in New Hampshire didn't have access to similar in-depth coverage of the region or the state. Globe New Hampshire reporters live in the state, and their local knowledge allows them to serve three distinct areas of New Hampshire, such as the north country and the seacoast, which are politically different.
“We’re looking for the stories that haven’t already been covered and using investigative journalism, especially in New Hampshire, where politics is the statewide sport. It can be quite different than covering politics in Rhode Island, where the focus is extremely local,” Alphonse said.
Growth in diversity
Award-winning journalism, a TV show, Hollywood connections and expansion into Rhode Island and New Hampshire are all part of The Boston Globe’s and Boston Globe Media’s growth initiative. Yet, the dimension of its universe is even larger.
As its brand message states, STAT is "reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine." It targets readers interested in developments in health and medicine as well as the policies that affect the public’s health and care.
A challenge for many news outlets is finding ways to attract younger audiences, most of whom obtain their news from social media — 77% of Gen Z and 67% of Millennials, according to a Q1 2023 Kagan Consumer Insights Survey.
Boston Globe Media launched “The B-Side” in October 2022. It specifically focuses on engaging with younger readers, many of whom are university students or working for the area’s many tech, finance and health companies. Much of the content will be in the form of video, swipeable stories and a weekday newsletter — shared on mobile and social media platforms.
Bob Sillick has held many senior positions and served a myriad of clients during his 47 years in marketing and advertising. He has been a freelance/contract content researcher, writer, editor and manager since 2010. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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