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The PJ Tatler

Rick Moran


August 3, 2013 - 3:39 pm

In 1993, the New York Times purchased the Boston Globe for $1.1 billion. Today, the Times sold the Globe to Boston Red Sox owner John W. Henry for $70 million. That’s a 93% loss — not factoring in inflation.

How the mighty have fallen:

In addition to The Globe, the sale includes;; the direct-mail marketing company Globe Direct; the company’s 49 percent interest in Metro Boston, a free daily paper; and The Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The Times bought the Telegram & Gazette for $295 million in 1999.

Mr. Henry is buying the media group without partners through his acquisition company; under terms of the sale, he does not have to assume The Globe’s pension liabilities.The all-cash sale is expected to close in 30 to 60 days.

The Globe is not the only paper to sell at a heavily discounted price. In April 2012, Philadelphia’s newspapers sold for $55 million after selling for $515 million in 2006. In October, The Tampa Tribune sold for $9.5 million. In recent talks on the sale of the Tribune Company’s portfolio of newspapers, analysts estimated that the entire newspaper company, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, was worth only $623 million.

For the Times Company, the New England Media Group was the last big asset in a portfolio it had been downsizing for several years. The acquisition of The Globe in 1993 was part of the company’s strategy to solidify its grip on the eastern corridor advertising sector and to have a presence that stretched from Maine to the District of Columbia. At the time, in addition to its flagship New York newspaper, the Times Company owned 31 regional newspapers, 20 magazines, five television stations, two radio stations and other businesses. It also had a half-interest, with the Washington Post Company, in The International Herald Tribune.

But in recent years, the Times Company has been divesting itself of assets to focus on developing its core title, The New York Times. In 2012, the company sold its 16 regional newspapers. Last year, it sold the About Group to IAC/InterActiveCorp for $300 million. This year, The Times announced plans to expand its global presence by changing the name of The International Herald Tribune to The International New York Times and attracting a new global audience of readers to become subscribers.

I realize that any opportunity to stick it to the New York Times should not go awasting. But watching the death of the daily newspaper in America is painful. When their history is written, it will reveal an industry and an institution that played a vital role in America’s growth and in knitting communities together. There was also the disseminating of information, the for good or ill, led to an informed electorate. It’s hard to imagine an America without the daily newspapers that fought tooth and nail for readership and where reporters would sell their mother to scoop a rival.

In the old days, everyone knew the bias of a particular newspaper. The publisher’s political leanings were well known so if you read a news story, you were prepared to view the information through a particular prism. But in many big city papers, there were also long, fact filled think pieces — deep analysis of a particular social problem or foreign policy crisis. Those were the days.

They are all bleeding cash now. Only rich investors with a sense of community appear willing to lose millions of dollars in order to keep the presses running. The unions are mostly broken, having no leverage to speak of. And it is very old fashioned to actually buy a newspaper at a newstand — if any exist anymore.

For some, the death of the Times and Globe — whenever it occurs — won’t come soon enough. I understand the impulse but regret the reality. The world will be a poorer place without them.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (6)
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Well put, Rick. I think it's hard for some to imagine how vital and necessary newspapers were in their heyday. Too often these days we confuse the editorial pages with the newspapers themselves, perhaps because the rest of the papers of shrunk so much. A pack of hungry, inquisitive journalists covering everything from city council meetings to little league games and delivering that news on your doorstep every morning was a wonderful thing. Democracy is less strong without a strong 4th Estate.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I lament their passing like I lament the passing of the buggy-whip industry.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
My home has been officially NYT/Boston Glob free since 2004. In the years since I have, happily, been adequately informed about events and personalities locally and in MA through discussion among local bloggers here as well as by regular participation in town meetings. Dead tree news is always a day late and by the time their take on a story is available the events, characters and facts have already shifted, making their input completely irrelevant before receipt.

The entire institution of the daily paper going the way of the trilobite, dinosaur and dodo. Let it go gracefully.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Correction: the world IS already a poorer place without them, insofar as they long ago transferred from all of that high minded and useful stuff to derivative Democratic party shills. Unless you mean to imply that the loss of these rotting husks that long ago lost the spirit of inquiry is, at this moment, making us poorer, in which case...uh, no. Denied. Incorrect. Their continued existence is what's making us poorer. First because they are now one of a host of vectors of disinformation which is causing incalculable economic harm by failing to address legislative abuse and encouraging the election of people who will PERFORM legislative abuse. Second because, if thousands of pieces of paper and gallons of ink are used for purposes that actively lower the value of the country, the opportunity cost of their use is that we don't use it for countless other purposes / paper and ink are more expensive for people not using them to actively harm the economy. The second effect, needless to say, is by far the less concerning and more easily self-correcting one.

The Newspapers have had their heyday of usefulness, and they largely brought their ending upon themselves. I'm not going to cry over losing an institution that stopped being worthwhile a decade or two ago at least.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is more than a 93% loss--it is more like a 102% loss. The cost of the Boston Glove was 1.1 billion, but there was also the cost of the Worchester paper of almost $300 million, for a total a total cost of $1.4 billion. The Times sold the entire group for $70 million, but retained pension liabilities of more than $100 million, so its net loss was more than $30 million, which is about a 102% loss.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, according to Bloomberg [], the NY Times kept about $110M in pension obligations from the deal, so in reality the NY Times sold it for $-40M, that is, they effectively took a loss on the sale.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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