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The Globe's Web-Trotter
By Sarah Jones
Gina Maniscalco owes a lot to Michael Dukakis. Ten years ago, Maniscalco, now executive director of Boston Globe Electronic Publishing, was hired as a political researcher for The Boston Globe during the 1988 presidential elections. It was supposed to be a temporary position; nobody, least of all Maniscalco, thought Dukakis would last more than a few months.
"But he kept winning!" Maniscalco exclaims, laughing, "So I really owe my job at the Globe to Dukakis."
Because she was covering the financial aspects of the campaign, Maniscalco approached an editor about getting a computer.
"She said, 'P.C.?'" Maniscalco recalls. "'Politically correct?'"
Maniscalco eventually set up three of them, to the amusement of her co-workers. "It got to be a joke," she says. "Gina building her computer empire."
Today, her empire is Boston.com, the Web site of the Globe's electronic division. It celebrated its two-year anniversary last week, with 35 employees, 225 advertisers and 750,000 daily page views. Visitors have increased at an average of 3 percent per month since January. The reason for its success? Quite simply, the news.
"About 70 percent of the people who use the Web go to breaking news," Maniscalco says. "We started with a crown jewel--The Boston Globe. They come to us because we're a news site, but they stay because we have 40 other content partners."
The partners include the Globe's traditional competitors such as Boston Magazine and local trade books Banker & Tradesman and Mass High Tech. The site also includes organizations such as the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Museum of Fine Arts.
The scope of the site's offerings leads Maniscalco to believe that Boston.com can hold its own in the face of stiff competition from Microsoft's Sidewalk.com and Digital City Boston, which is produced by America Online.
Still, she's not resting on her laurels. Some of her plans for the company include reaching out to small and medium-sized businesses, that can't afford to advertise in the Globe.
"I'd like to give them an opportunity to have a Web presence without breaking their pocketbooks," she says. "Once we've done that, I'll feel more comfortable saying we've fulfilled our original mission as the gateway to New England."