GlobalPost offers world news to ailing U.S. papers

NEW YORK, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Overseas reporting was one of the first areas curtailed by U.S. newspapers stung by deep budget cuts in recent years. GlobalPost, an online news outlet that launches on Monday, wants to restore that coverage.

With 65 correspondents in 46 countries, GlobalPost will have its own website and sell news to papers whose readers want in-depth, analytical stories that supplement what they get from news wires such as The Associated Press, Reuters TRIL.L and Bloomberg.

“There is an enormous appetite for knowing what’s happening in the world,” said Philip Balboni, GlobalPost’s president and chief executive. “It’s just not being met by traditional media.”

Balboni, former president of New England Cable News and a former executive at newspaper and magazine publisher Hearst Corp, is starting the Boston-based service with Charles Sennott, a veteran Boston Globe foreign correspondent.

GlobalPost plans to announce the first of its deals soon, Balboni said, but he declined to specify which U.S. publisher it would be.

While he and others talk about meeting the needs of American readers in a globalized world, some wonder whether newspapers can afford GlobalPost.

“There must be some sort of fallacy out there that, because we’ve cut staff positions, we’ll pay somebody else,” said Bernie Kohn, investigations editor at The Sun in Baltimore, Maryland. “Well, we don’t have the money to do that either.”

Until a few years ago, overseas coverage was a staple at U.S. dailies. It was not uncommon for local papers, such as The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey, to think little of sending journalists to places like Haiti to report on a deadly flood.

With advertising revenue plunging and readers fleeing to the Internet, big newspaper companies from USA Today publisher Gannett Co Inc GCI.N to Miami Herald owner McClatchy Co MNI.N have slashed jobs and cut overseas reports in favor of more local news.

“You can’t blame them because they have to protect their home turf first,” Balboni said.

Now, only a few big dailies like News Corp's NWSA.O The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times NYT.N and the Los Angeles Times feature news from full-time overseas staff.

Beyond newspapers, other media outlets are feeling the pinch. For example, Walt Disney Co's DIS.N ABC News is partnering with the British Broadcasting Corp [BBC.UL] on Iraq reporting as the U.S. network pulls back its coverage.


Still, Balboni and others said, the world is becoming more interconnected in business, culture and other ways.

“We have to understand that, with society being so diverse, our local readers think of places that are overseas as local for them,” said Paul Moses, a journalism professor at Brooklyn College in New York and a former Newsday city editor.

GlobalPost is not the only one to sense an opportunity.

Time Warner Inc's TWX.N CNN is offering a new wire service to papers and political news website Politico is catering to newspaper customers too. Recently, the Christian Science Monitor said it would offer overseas news to papers.

Investors put in $8.2 million to launch GlobalPost, which has spent about $1 million in startup costs. Investors include former Boston Globe Publisher Ben Taylor, Akamai Technologies AKAM.O Chief Executive Paul Sagan and Amos Hostetter, chairman of venture capital firm Pilot House Associates.

Rather than providing comprehensive daily news coverage, GlobalPost will focus on subjects and regions that are less covered by wires like The Associated Press and Reuters.

One way GlobalPost is keeping costs in check is by paying on a freelance basis -- $1,000 a month to correspondents who live where they work, paid in U.S. dollars, plus a stake in the company.

Among the reporters are Pulitzer Prize winner Gayle Murphy in Saudi Arabia, former New York Times contributor Seth Kugel in Brazil, former Newsweek bureau chief Josh Hammer in Germany and former Newsday and Times reporter Ed Gargan in China. (Editing by John O’Callaghan)