Enact this short list of proposals immediately:
1. No more “news analysis.” You make that something reserved for the truly complex: credit default swaps, the federal budget, or the intricacies of Iraqi politics, for example.
2. No more seven-part series, on anything. The Kerry series made sense, when he was running. The Romney one made less sense, because he didn’t have a prayer. The Ted Kennedy one was a nice idea. Now we’re done with those!
3. More “only a newspaper can do this” stories. The classic example, and I am not the first to point this out, is Charlie Savage’s “signing statements” story. Savage went and read the legislation. That is good use of your resources.
4. Fewer columnists. You don’t have to fire anybody; make them reporters.
5. Strive for objectivity. No, really. You don’t even try. Try.
6. Make the sports writers cover the sports, not just the Boston teams. During Manny flareups last year, we got blanket coverage for three or four days. Not what fans want; you end up competing with sports blogs, a niche. Instead, tell us what’s going on in the rest of the league.
7. Be more aggressive about combining sections, or eliminating some sections on days when they have nothing.
8. Forget the suburbs — scrap Globe South and all that other crap. You don’t cover those areas effectively, and you should focus on being a national newspaper.
9. Cover Beacon Hill aggressively. Not gotcha stuff like the Herald does, but the legislation. What are those bozos doing all day?
10. People are telling you to leverage Boston.com. I’m giving it to you straight: Boston.com sucks. Sure, I like “Name that Caption” as much as the next guy, but you overdo it on the playful stuff. Other sites are more fun than you, your humor has never been your strong suit. If I were you, I would redesign Boston.com to look like an online newspaper, more like NYTimes.com or most other newspaper sites.
11. Embrace change. Again, don’t try to compete with the Internet, you can’t (just like you couldn’t compete with television). But learn to ride with change. Newspapers tend to think people love their regular features, because, if they cancel a comic strip, they hear from all those readers. But they have to start thinking of all the potential readers, and my guess is that there are still plenty of readers who want a great newspaper.
So all you have to do is become a great newspaper. Not so hard, right?
I’m not sure who said this; I believe it was Casey Stengel.
We’re two players away from a great team. The only problem is, the two players are Ruth and Gehrig.