Those of us living in the Greater Boston Globe area learned yesterday that the most familiar of sounds, the morning paper tossed into the driveway (or dropped on the front step or brushing our apartment doors) may soon be permanently silenced.
Yesterday's banner headline so stunned me that I couldn't even compose a post: "Times Co. threatens to shut Globe; seeks $20m in cuts from unions." Later that day, The Times columnist Nicholas Kristof posted this update to Twitter: "Who would have ever, ever imagined that the Boston Globe might not survive? It's a grim time for a journalist."
Yes, very grim. When the NY Times Company bought the Boston Globe back in 1993, some forward thinkers feared what was then perceived as the worst: that The Times management would turn the Globe into a regional paper.
And indeed not many years passed before that proved mostly true (though there remains, almost against all odds, some fantastic "Global" reporting going on). Foreign bureaus were closed and the non-New England news seemed to increasingly bear the label of a news service, often The New York Times News Service.
Another yes: all print media are suffering yadda yadda. But as others are saying, a newspaper is not just a business. It's a way to keep a society honest through investigative reporting, informed through plain old good journalism, and together through speaking with an unmistakable voice.
There are ways to solve this, New York Times Company, that fall outside the traditional means, axing everything in sight or demolishing the whole thing. We've already lost many of our best Boston reporters.
Thinking caps on, please. Fast. Yesterday's story gives the unions 30 days to make concessions. Make that 29 days. The response to yesterday's news is reflected in an article today and in the hundreds of comments on the Globe site itself.
A lot more than a newspaper is at stake.