Big Changes Are Happening on Morrissey Boulevard
It’s been a busy few days over at Morrissey Boulevard. On Monday, the Globe’s new tech site, BetaBoston, launched. And today BostonGlobe.com finally made the switch from a full paywall system to a metered model, which will allow readers 10 free stories every 30 days before cutting them off and asking them to subscribe. I wrote about BetaBoston at length in my piece on John Henry buying the Globe, out in our latest issue, and also touched briefly on the switch to a meter. When I asked Henry over email about that decision, here’s what he replied:
The meter is used by most papers now — we are late to that party. It’s the least confusing format that allows the world access to your content while still requiring subscriptions from regular users. Newspapers made a mistake TV didn’t make in giving their content away. TV did that for 30 years then realized the power of dual income streams. Newspapers have finally recognized this.
But those were hardly the only changes at the Globe: editor Brian McGrory sent a memo to staff today announcing several additional ones (you can read the memo’s full text over at Poynter). McGrory wrote that Boston.com will finally be stripped of all Globe content, leaving it to create (and aggregate) all of its own. “The intention over the next many weeks is to move all Globe-originated content—staff blogs, chats, videos, and more—to bg.com, where it can be widely read by a larger audience not hindered by a paywall,” McGrory wrote. “This will allow bg.com to reflect the full, vibrant, lively personality of this entire room. At the same time, boston.com will remain a news site at its core, but with a sharper voice that better captures the sensibilities of Boston.” To drive the point home, all Boston.com staffers will be moved out of the Globe newsroom and into the building’s media lab area.
There were a number of staffing changes to Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com announced, but, most notably, Ron Agrella, the editor of Boston.com, will be moving on from his role. The memo is unclear on what exactly his future with the paper is, but based on McGrory’s wording, he doesn’t seem long for Morrissey Boulevard. Bennie DiNardo, who had been the Globe‘s deputy managing editor for digital (with a heavy responsibility for Boston.com) is getting kicked over to the paper’s Business section, where he’ll be an associate editor.
Two of the people most responsible for Boston.com, then, have just been moved out of their roles. Boiled down, the head just got chopped off the site. It’s no secret that John Henry thinks that Boston.com is desperately in need of reinvention—my story in the magazine covers how frustrated he was with the slow pace of the site’s current redesign project—so today’s moves don’t come as too much of a surprise. When I asked Henry about his plans for Boston.com, he said, “We are going to revitalize and re-launch a completely different website with a new format, differentiated from BostonGlobe.com’s content and a dedicated staff. The work has really just begun in earnest.”
As Boston.com searches for a new editor, it looks like the work has pretty well got going.