By Dan Kennedy
There was news in Mark Shanahan’s Boston Globe story on the decline of the once-great Providence Journal under Gannett ownership: the Globe is opening a New Hampshire bureau sometime in 2023, a move similar to what it’s done in Rhode Island.
At one time the Globe took New England coverage seriously, even publishing a Sunday section called New Hampshire Weekly. On a recent episode of our podcast, Nancy West, executive director of the investigative news organization InDepthNH, told Ellen and me that she would welcome a Globe comeback in the Granite State.
“I loved it when the Globe came up and was doing important reporting,” she said, citing in particular the paper’s coverage of a cardiac surgeon at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester whose horrendous malpractice record was obscured by his status as an operating-room star. “Was I a little jealous? My first instinct is jealousy, of course,” West told us. “But then I’m just really pleased that the word is getting out.” She added: “I would love to have the Globe come back. I would love to see it because we just need talented reporters on the street. And I think competition is healthy.”
Unlike Rhode Island, New Hampshire’s two major daily newspapers, the New Hampshire Union Leader and the Concord Monitor, are independently owned. Both, however, have endured significant cuts to their reporting capacity in recent years. As West says, another news organization focused on the state would be welcome.
As with Rhode Island, New Hampshire is an opportunity for the Globe to sell more digital subscriptions without the hassle of bygone days, when it was necessary to truck papers across New England.
So where might the Globe go next? Vermont strikes me as a stretch. Connecticut? Probably not. Much of the state roots for the Yankees, and Hearst CT has a growing digital operation. Maine? Possibly, although the Globe has collaborated on some stories with the Portland Press Herald. I’m not sure they’d want to compete. If they do, David Dahl, a former top editor at the Globe who’s now editor of the nonprofit Maine Monitor, told us recently that he’d love to work with his old paper. “We’re open to any partnership discussions that we would have,” he said, “and if they want to affiliate with us, they’re more than more than welcome.”
The most logical move for the Globe after New Hampshire would be an expanded presence in Central Massachusetts — ironic given that Globe owner John Henry acquired the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester when he bought the Globe in 2013 only to sell it to out-of-state interests. The T&G eventually landed in the hands of GateHouse Media, which merged with Gannett; like most of Gannett’s properties, the T&G has been gutted.
At a time when the decline of advertising and fears of recession are leading to cuts even at once high-flying newspapers like The Washington Post, it’s heartening to see that the Globe continues to focus on expansion.