The Frog & the Scorpion

I think most of us know the parable of the frog & the scorpion. If you don’t, the quick summary is that the scorpion asks the frog for a ride across the stream. The frog, afraid of being killed by the scorpion, initially rejects the scorpions request. The scorpion talks the frog into it, however, by convincing the frog that he would be killing himself if he kills the frog mid-trip. Well, the frog buys this logic and mid-way across the stream the scorpion stings the frog. Before he dies, the frog asks why he would do this. Surely they will both die. The scorpion responds “I could not help myself. It is my nature.”

Watching the Newspaper Guild in Boston reject the contract proposal of the Boston Globe (and New York Times Company) management is just like the parable. Yes, of course, the union is right that the deal was unfair and that management isn’t sharing enough pain. However, no one in management, or in the union, seems to have a clue how to fix the situation of declining readership, declining advertising, terrible customer service, and a “stale” voice in reporting.

In terms of service, for the life of me, I could not get a Globe delivered to my house before 6:45 AM. The contracted time is 6:00 AM. No amount of complaining could correct it. So instead of bending over backward to protect paying readers, the Globe ignored us, then raised home delivery prices by approximately 25%. So I canceled daily delivery.

I am quite sure that the union is justified in its anger toward years of bad decision making at the Globe and the Times. I am not anti-union, but “it’s all their fault” and rejecting business-saving proposals, defending 37.5 hour weeks and lifetime employment contracts don’t endear the Guild to me or many others. Blaming management doesn’t excuse the Guild from decades of the same old approach to journalism.  It’s just too easy to point to management and blame them. It’s in our nature.

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