Newspapers For Sale
August 6, 2013
August 6, 2013
Peter Gammons set the media world buzzing on Friday afternoon with a one-sentence blog post: “A source says the New York Times Corporation has chosen John Henry as the new owner of the Boston Globe.” The hashtag games started immediately, with media junkies in Boston in beyond wise cracking about the prospect of the Red Sox owner and investor taking ownership of the Globe, Boston.com, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, part of the Boston Metro, in addition to owning the paper’s Morrissey Boulevard headquarters. Early Saturday morning, the Globe confirmed news of its own sale for $70 million in cash. Henry took a tour of the newsroom on Monday and, judging by reporter Beth Healy’s story on his visit, is saying all the right things. Henry doesn’t want to sway any coverage. Cuts aren’t on the table, at least not right away. He took time to meet with the staffers that create the region’s paper of record. But, as Henry points out, it’s premature to discuss what will happen until the deal is approved and he has the keys to the building. For many at the Globe, it must be a relief to see New York Times ownership on its way out. In 2009, the Times threatened to close the Globe entirely unless unions representing the paper’s staff agreed to steep concessions. A compromise was ultimately reached, but it was a rancorous process. Henry represents a change of guard that might boost morale, at least for the short term. He has deep pockets and may be willing to try some new things to generate revenue for the struggling paper. But news of Henry’s purchase was almost immediately eclipsed by the announcement of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos’s purchase of the Washington Post for $250 million in cash. It was stunning news—unlike the Globe, there were no leaks that the paper was even up for sale. More predictable jokes coursed around social media as another newsroom was shaken by a sudden sale. Bezos earned praise from media critics who lauded Bezos’ reassuring memo to Post newsroom staff. Obviously, we won’t know the full repercussions of the sale of the Post and Globe for years to come. But, as media critic Dan Kennedy points out, perhaps we should be hopeful. After years of furloughs, layoffs, and buyouts, people who’ve made fortunes by investing wisely are opting to buy newspapers. That must buoy the hopes of journalists—at least for now.
By Amy Derjue, SM& Senior Account Executive