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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Oh Henry!

You think John Henry waited until after midnight to seal the deal just to scoop the Herald? Or force them to report on something other than their Internet radio station?

Whatever the motives, the Reign of Sulzberger appears to be at an end, the scion of Eighth Avenue heading back to Manhattan with a huge financial loss and a rationalization that he needed to "end the drag" on the New York Times Co.

Time will tell if the Globe is just another trinket for the man who owns the Red Sox. And it opens another era of anxiety for the staff that has endured years of shrinking and downgrading at the hands of the Times.

But to read the Grey Lady is to feel the unmitigated sense of relief in taking $70 million (and keeping the pension expenses) for a property for which they paid $1.1 billion two decades ago.
“The trends at The Globe have been a drag on the company,” [UBS analyst John] Janedis said. “The New York Times has performed a lot better over the past several years. To the extent that you can refocus on a paper with massive global appeal that has still a very strong core readership and then expand the product offerings, there’s probably more long-term value creation there versus having The Times and The Globe long term in the same portfolio.” 
You think they guy may also be working for Pat Purcell?

Henry for one, is touting the value of local ownership, even though by Boston standards he is a carpetbagger who blew into town only a decade or so ago and has his escape vehicle prominently berthed at Rowe's Wharf.
“This is a thriving, dynamic region that needs a strong, sustainable Boston Globe playing an integral role in the community’s long-term future,” he said.
Similar words have been uttered by local business executives with no experience in journalism who have purchased once-seemingly iconic properties and run them into the ground (are you listening Sam Zell?)

To be fair, Henry and his partners have been good stewards of the Red Sox and have helped bring on an era to revitalization to the once moribund area around Fenway Park.

But the business scenario is quite different: Henry can't open his wallet and bring in high-priced free agents to staff the city desk and the Statehouse. He also has nowhere near the leverage to raise ticket prices, particularly on the every dwindling coterie of loyalists who have sustained higher costs and poorer service as home delivery customers.

And unlike the team he puts out on the field, there has been a steady shrinkage of news hole and serious journalism to fill the dwindling space.

Henry undoubtedly knows the future rests online -- and even here the results to date need to be a bit unnerving.

So fasten your seat belts and stay tuned for more upheaval on Morrissey Boulevard.

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