Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Threat to Shut Down 'Globe': Just a Negotiating Tactic?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Threat to Shut Down 'Globe': Just a Negotiating Tactic?

Article excerpt

When it bought the Boston Globe for a record $1.1 billion in 1993, the New York Times Co. added one of the nation's most acclaimed and profitable newspapers to its empire.

But analysts say the 137-year-old Globe has been a money-loser since, and the Times, now $1.1 billion in debt, is threatening to shut down Boston's pre-eminent paper unless it gets $20 million in union concessions.

Faced with the global recession and declining revenues, the newspaper business is reeling -- one major paper has already folded this year and several others are seeking bankruptcy protection. But the threat to the Globe, announced Friday on the Globe's Web site, has shocked some industry insiders, who say it shows no one is safe.

"It is a huge warning shot across the bow of the newspaper industry. If this can happen to the storied Boston Globe, pretty much nothing is safe," said Boston University communications professor Tobe Berkovitz.

Of the major dailies that have gone down, none has the cachet of the Globe, he said.

The threat to close the paper "sends a very clear message to all employees and unions of surviving newspapers -- that this is not business as usual," said Ken Doctor, a media analyst with the research firm Outsell. "This is uncharted territory."

The Times bought the Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion -- the highest price ever for a single American newspaper -- getting one of the country's most respected papers. The Globe has won 20 Pulitzer Prizes and has been lauded for some of its work, including its coverage of Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal.

But since its purchase, the Globe has gone through several rounds of layoffs and buyouts. As readership shifts to online news, the newspaper's average weekday circulation fell 10 percent to 323,983 for the six months ending Sept. 30, compared to the same six-month period in 2007, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Advertising revenues industrywide have plunged by more than 16 percent in 2008, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Newspapers all "have a sword over their heads," said Doctor. If the industry wants to survive, he said, "everyone has to give some blood."

The Globe reported the Times' demands a day after executives from the Times delivered its ultimatum to leaders of the Globe's 13 unions. Boston Newspaper Guild president Daniel Totten told the Globe the concessions could include pay cuts, the end of company pension contributions and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.