The Boston Globe, which has been owned since 1993 by The New York Times Company, is New England’s largest and most influential newspaper. With a circulation of nearly 475,000 weekdays and more than 700,000 on Sundays, in readership it ranks 17th weekdays and 11th on Sundays among America’s dailies.
The Globe was founded in 1872 and carried forward by General Charles Taylor, a Civil War veteran beginning in 1873. For the next 125 years a Taylor family member served as Boston Globe publisher.
In 1973 the long-private company became a subsidiary of Affiliated Publications, a public company which, over the course of the ensuing two decades, came to own television and radio stations, magazines, and more. On October 1, 1993, Affiliated Publications merged with the New York Times Company in the largest single newspaper merger and acquisition in U.S. history.
On July 12, 1999, the New York Times Company named Richard Gilman to replace the last Taylor as publisher of the Boston Globe. Effective May 15, 2000, Gilman named Renee Loth, then 47, to replace the newspaper’s retiring Editorial Page Editor David Greenway.
In a move emblematic of today’s Boston Globe, Loth immediately put the newspaper’s only conservative columnist, Jeff Jacoby, on a four-month unpaid suspension. The pretext was that Jacoby had done a July 4th column about the Founding Fathers that “was not entirely original,” because it resembled, but did not plagiarize, elements of such a history circulating on the Internet. The effect of this suspension was to silence the Globe‘s only conservative voice during precisely the entire four month-period leading up to the 2000 presidential election.
Media critic Dan Kennedy of Loth’s former employer, the Boston Phoenix, noted a double standard, pointing out that the Globe‘s City Hall bureau chief had been caught asking for written recommendations to a Harvard fellowship from the Mayor and others he was supposed to cover with impartiality. Yet this reporter was not suspended without pay like Jacoby, nor was he fired. The Globe merely reassigned him to its Business section, with neither fanfare nor loss of wages. Moreover, Loth, described by Jacoby as “very sharply left,” said that if Jacoby returned, his column would require a “serious rethink.” “Four months [of suspension] is a long enough time that he may feel he wants to find another job,” she added. “That’s certainly his right.”
The Globe has faced several other major journalistic embarrassments. Its Pulitzer Prize-finalist metro columnist Patricia Smith apologized and resigned in June 1998 after admitting that she had made up quotes from non-existent people in her columns. In August of that same year, columnist Mike Barnicle was pushed to resign after sources quoted in one of his columns could not be located, and jokes in another were found to resemble those in a book by comedian George Carlin.
A number of foundations have given financial support to the Boston Globe, including the Copeland Family Foundation, the Flatley Foundation, and the Vinik Family Foundation.