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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Price Ain't Right

I guess we will have Young Arthur to kick around some more.

And perhaps we should restart that venture by noting that prospective Globe purchaser Steve Taylor discovered The New York Times decided to take The Boston Globe off the market by reading about it on boston.com.


There is no mystery here -- the Times Co. was looking at $35 million plus assumption of pension liabilities, a figure under readjustment but one destined to bring the price into the neighborhood of $100 million.

Or $1 billion less than it paid for it. I know the bottom has fallen out of the newspaper industry but there was no way the Times board (and Sulzberger family meal ticket) could accept such a humiliating turnaround.

Particularly if they sold it back to the family they paid $1.1 billion.

The no sale is not necessarily a sign of stability for the Globe, which has been through hell and back in 2009. OK, so the idea of a Boston edition of the Times is off the table for now, but the mere contemplation of a launching a competitor suggests the Globe is simply a large piece of the puzzle that is the New York Times Co. bottom line.

Given a more robust bid, the Times would have been glad to slit the Globe's fiscal throat in, well, a New York Minute.

There was and is a certain nostalgia at the thought of the Taylor family reacquiring its once-prize possession, though there is also little doubt more staff turmoil would have followed. The fact they could apparently not rustle up sufficient backing to make the purchase underscores just how unwanted an investment newspapers are.

So it's back to status quo ante. A sharply reduced staff cashing smaller paychecks goes back to writing headlines and not being part of them. The team that Marty Baron has assembled is a good one, even if they have less room to work in.

And the same crackerjack circulation staff bound and determined to aggravate (higher) paying customers remains in place.

Life is OK.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Times team will continue to regret their ownership of the Globe because of 1) economic conditions, 2) their refusal -- or is it inability? -- to transform the business in a time of so much competing media.

Jack Welch's $500 million offer for the Globe has never looked so good. If Arthur and the Times management team were thinking about their shareholders, they'd swallow their pride and sell the Globe so they could focus on their flagship paper.

Whether a sale of the Globe would change the paper's future is debatable. Perhaps even unlikely. One thing is for sure -- the Globe's business model, if you can call it that, will not change, resulting in more water coming on board. Glug. Glug. Glug.

October 15, 2009 5:32 AM  

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