Hours after a (second) midnight deadline, Globe unions are still negotiating with management and the paper’s fate is still up in the air. The biggest issue still on the table are the lifetime job guarantees enjoyed by some employees. The New York Times is waving around a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) that, if filed today, would shutter the paper in 60 days (though the order could be withdrawn if circumstances change).
The Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam has been providing a relatively even-handed, on-site blog of the proceedings; her co-bylined story in today’s paper also provided a good overview of the events of the past 24 hours. The Globe’s story is somber, but thorough.
So, what’s going to happen? Well, I don’t think it matters. Either way, everyone loses. The Globe’s coverage has already been sliding into irrelevancy — thanks in no small part, I’m beginning to think, to its presentation on Boston.com, but also due to a sad parade of crappy lifestyle features and dwindling impactful local coverage. Layoffs are going to come out of this no matter what. And there is still no plan on the table for how to turn the Globe, online and in print, back into a meaningful, innovative, sustainable publication — in which case, why bother negotiating at all? It’s like two hungry men arguing over the chicken bones. There’s not much left to save.
Except, of course, potential. The Globe retains the potential to be amazing, and still manages exceptional journalism some days despite budget cuts and distractions as heavy as these negotiations. While the brand is still salvageable, let’s hope both parties find a way to capitalize on that potential to the benefit of all involved — employee, management and reader alike.
Stay tuned. I plan on checking in with Heslam’s blog throughout the day, as well as the Boston Herald and Boston.com homepages. UniversalHub is doing a good job aggregating coverage. Dan Kennedy at Media Nation should also have some interesting things to say, once the situation shakes out a bit.