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The future of news is entrepreneurial and expansive, industry leaders say at Globe Summit

(Left to right) Linda Henry, chief executive of Boston Globe Media, Lynne Montesanto, publisher of Boston Magazine, Susan Goldberg, president and CEO of GBH, and Margaret Low, CEO of WBUR discussed the local media landscape with journalist Janet Wu at the Globe Summit on Wednesday at WBUR's CitySpace.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

The future of news will hinge on expanding beyond a single platform, audience, or approach to engage the public and meet its needs in new ways — and on convincing more people to pay for content, the leaders of some of Boston’s biggest media organizations said Wednesday.

With the old divisions between print and broadcast media now largely irrelevant, success in the news industry will depend on building the largest audience across multiple platforms, the chief executives of Boston Globe Media, WBUR, and GBH and the publisher of Boston Magazine said at Globe Summit.

The discussion, titled “Convening Boston’s Leading Women in Media,” featured Lynne Montesanto, publisher of Boston Magazine; Margaret Low, chief executive of WBUR; Susan Goldberg, chief executive of GBH; and Linda Henry, chief executive of Boston Globe Media.

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Low said producing news in the digital age is “daunting,” with disruptions to longstanding business practices and a lack of public consensus about basic facts and truths. As the station expands into new areas, it’s important to continue serving the needs of “deeply loyal” core audiences who have listened to and financially supported WBUR for years, she said.

“They give because they believe in us, and that’s in some ways unique to public radio,” Low said. “They don’t have to, but they do.”

Henry said the Globe has weathered the industry’s changes by being adaptable.

“We’ve gotten to this place where we ... just keep investing and finding new and better ways to serve our readers,” she said. “To do that, we have to meet them in the platforms where they are. We have a television show, we have podcasts, we have newsletters.”

With new bureaus in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, the Globe is becoming a “super-regional” newspaper, she said.

“We are not interested in becoming a national, but as there’s been a decline in smaller regional places, we’re trying to fill that gap,” Henry said.

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The industry leaders spoke on a morning panel at Globe Summit, which brings together influential figures across many fields for three days to consider some of the greatest challenges facing society. This year’s summit, with the theme “Today’s Innovators, Tomorrow’s Leaders,” continues through Thursday at WBUR CitySpace and livestreams at globesummit2023.splashthat.com.

Wednesday’s panelists discussed the rarity that so many top local newsrooms are led by women, and the benefits of women’s leadership.

“I think there’s a recognition that women actually lead differently than men,” Low said. “So there’s an attraction, I think, to bringing women in, because they both have the business sophistication, the editorial sophistication, and sort of the head and heart of what it means to run an organization and to think deeply about culture and people.”

The industry leaders said there is a particular hunger for news and information in Boston, creating an audience that is educated, loyal, and has a long memory.

“People have a real passion for Boston Magazine,” Montesanto said. “Whether they got it in their home when they were younger or their families won a ‘Best of Boston’ award. There’s no city like Boston in terms of making that known that they won that award ... On Charles Street, there’s an antique store that has the plaque from 1997 — it’s an antique!”

Goldberg said technological disruptions of the 21st century have brought new challenges but also benefits.

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“When I ran a newspaper, when I ran a big magazine, those were great experiences . . . but I could only reach the people who literally had it in their hands,” she said. Now, we can reach people everywhere.”



Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him @jeremycfox.