It started yesterday with Jason Schwartz’s big John Henry takeout (via Boston Daily).
Will John Henry Save the Globe?
Maybe, but his ambitions are much grander. “I feel my mortality,” he says. So here’s his plan: He’s going to use the time he has left on earth to try to save journalism itself.
Just days after striking a deal to buy the Boston Globe from the New York Times Company last summer, John Henry walked into the paper’s newsroom as the city’s most important private citizen in decades—maybe centuries. He already owned one great Boston institution, the Red Sox, and now, for a mere $70 million, he’d bought a second.
As he made his way around the room to greet reporters and editors, neither party knew quite what to make of the other. “He was standing, hovering over my desk with an outstretched arm. It was really weird,” one reporter recalls. “Like, ‘Hi, I’m John Henry.’ ‘Oh, hello.’”
“You’re shaking a billionaire’s hand,” says another. “There’s an apprehension to it. Okay, what’s going to happen? We know so little about him.”
We know more now, thanks to the Boston magazine piece. For instance, we know this:
[Henry has] decided that it’s time for the Globe to make a move. The prospective sale of the paper’s 16-acre Morrissey Boulevard property, he says, “will provide us with the ability to move into a smaller, more efficient and modern facility in the heart of the city. We believe that there is enough excess value there to fund very important investments in our long-term future, if the community supports development of the property.”
John Henry to sell Globe HQ
Moving broadsheet to smaller digs in ‘heart’ of Boston
Red Sox owner John Henry plans to sell The Boston Globe’s headquarters on Morrissey Boulevard and relocate the broadsheet to a smaller facility somewhere “in the heart of” the Hub — but so far he’s made no mention of when the move will happen or what he’ll do with the paper’s printing press operations.
“I’m sure right now there are a lot of people at the Globe wondering what’s going on, but certainly if I were an employee that worked on the printing press I would be concerned,” said Suffolk University journalism chairman Bob Rosenthal.
One possibility: a shotgun wedding between the Globe and NESN, which has studios in Watertown.
[Insert don’t-forget-to-tweest graf here]
The decision to sell underlines what many experts have said all along — that the $70 million sale to Henry was mainly a land transaction.
“It is a reminder of how much of the value of the Globe lies in the real estate and physical assets, and how little remains in the financial value of the operating company,” said Nicholas Retsinas, a senior lecturer in real estate at the Harvard Business School.
Crosstown at the stately low-cost broadsheet, all’s quiet on the Henry front. We’ll see how long that lasts.