Hark! The Herald! (Useless Print Edition Edition)

March 22, 2018

Umpteenth in our never-ending series

On numerous occasions the hardreading staff has referred to a Boston Herald subscription as Biggest. Waste. Ever.

And now we’re back.

Page 3 of today’s selfie local tabloid is entirely devoted to this piece bylined “Herald Staff,” the designation routinely employed in passing off press releases as actual news.

Herald moves print production to Providence Journal

The Boston Herald is now being printed in Providence, which means our loyal customers can look forward to a more reader-friendly paper.

Beginning this week, the Herald is being printed at the The Providence Journal’s flexographic newspaper printing facility, which was North America’s first entirely flexographic printing facility when it opened in 1987. The Journal selected the flexo process because it creates a paper with vibrant color reproduction and uses an environmentally friendly, water-based ink that won’t have the paper rubbing off on your hands.

 

More reader-friendly?

Here’s what this reader got on today’s Scoreboard pages.

The redoubtable Dan Kennedy at Media Nation called this one several days ago: “I’m hearing reports from inside the Herald that the switch will require deadlines so early that evening sports stories may not make the print edition.”

Bingo.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, the Herald at times gave readers the same short shrift when the Boston Globe printed it.

(Two be sure graf goes here)

Also to be sure, the e-Edition of the spotty local tabloid did have yesterday’s results.

But we’re shelling out good money for the print edition while getting less news for the buck all the time.

So, Heraldniks, we say this as you celebrate your new printing setup: Not a providential beginning. Not by a long shot.

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Boston Globe Scoops the Herald on Herald Sale

February 15, 2018

For the past several months, the Boston Globe has been playing catch-up to the Herald in covering the sale of the feisty local tabloid.

Today the Globe caught up.

Under the unusual byline “Globe Staff,” the stately local broadsheet reported the details of yesterday’s bake sale.

Bidding for Herald jumped by millions at auction

Digital First Media is poised to become the new owner of the Boston Herald after besting competitors with multiple higher bids during a bankruptcy auction Tuesday that netted nearly $12 million, according to newly filed court documents.

A transcript of the auction held in the office of Herald law firm Brown Rudnick revealed that Digital First opened with a bid valued at around $7.6 million — higher than the offers already in place from two other competitors, GateHouse Media and Revolution Capital Group.

After GateHouse countered Digital First with a slightly higher offer, Revolution Capital dropped out, leaving the two competitors to trade bids several times until Digital First’s final offer proved too rich for GateHouse, according to a transcript of the auction filed with bankruptcy court in Delaware.

 

And Digital’s final offer? “The Denver-based company, which owns daily and weekly newspapers in Colorado, California, Massachusetts, and several other states, prevailed with a final offer of $9.6 million in cash, $1 million in accrued paid time off to employees, and another $1.4 million in assumed liabilities.”

Crosstown at the Herald, reporter Brian Dowling didn’t have those numbers, but he did spotlight what exactly that breakdown means.

This year, the pension, severance and retirement payments to employees were estimated to reach $3.5 million, according to court papers. The pension, severance and retirement accounts had accrued nearly $25 million in liabilities when the company filed for bankruptcy.

 

Obviously $2.4 million isn’t gonna put much of a dent in that. Dowling also reported that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is “urging Herald ownership to strike a deal to save workers’ pensions.”

All due respect, Mistah Mayah, the corn is off the cob – unless the bankruptcy judge steps in to change the deal. We’ll find out tomorrow.


Who Knew the Boston Herald Was Worth $12 Million?

February 14, 2018

Eat your heart out, Mort Zuckerman.

Back in September, the real estate magnate sold the legendary New York Daily News to Tronc (rhymes with bonk) for exactly $1 – 50¢ less than the price of the paper’s Sunday edition.

(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, Tronc did assume $30 million in operational and pension liabilities, but hey – a dollar’s a dollar, yeah?

Boston Herald owner Pat Purcell, on the other hand, scooped up a helluva lot more in yesterday’s bake sale of the shaky local tabloid.

From Brian Dowling’s piece in today’s edition of the soldy local tabloid:

Digital First Media enters $11.9M top bid for Boston Herald

Digital First Media won the Boston Herald in a 5-hour bankruptcy auction with a top $11.9 million bid that all but settles who will carry the news organization into the next chapter of the city’s media history.

The newspaper company, which operates as Media News Group and owns hundreds of publications across the country, including the Denver Post, bested two other suitors — GateHouse Media and Revolution Capital. Digital First also owns the Lowell Sun and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise in Massachusetts.

 

But that doesn’t mean it’s all roses and lollipops at Fargo Street. As the Boston Globe’s Jon Chesto reports, Digital First Media “has earned a reputation for relentless cost-cutting” – not a good omen for the Herald rank and file.

And, as our kissin’ cousins at One-Daily Town recently noted, Digital First just ditched the Sentinel & Enterprise’s brick-and-mortar home for a “virtual newsroom.”

So maybe you Heraldniks might want to bring some of your personal items home.


In Boston Herald Sale, Employees Are the Wishbone

January 3, 2018

Full disclosure: The hardreading staff forgot to get an MBA, so we might be off in this analysis. But the two bids to buy the Boston Herald clearly have very different interests at heart.

Start with the new offer from Revolution Capital Group, as described today by Herald reporter Brian Dowling.

Second potential buyer makes offer for Boston Herald

A Los Angeles investment group is pledging a $5.75 million bid for the Boston Herald, the second public bid for the tabloid since it filed for bankruptcy in December.

Revolution Capital Group filed its bid yesterday with the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The company previously offered to buy the Herald in 2013.

Components of Revolution’s bid add up to more than the $5 million offer that newspaper giant GateHouse Media made last month.

 

But it’s not just more – it’s who gets more. “Revolution is offering $3 million cash for the company, agreeing to honor $750,000 of paid time off for employees who join the company, and is pledging to pay out $2 million in severance.”

Crosstown at the Boston Globe, Jon Chesto reminds us what the deal is with GateHouse.

GateHouse proposed paying $4.5 million in cash, as well as at least $500,000 in assumed liabilities, including paid time off owed to employees.

 

Unless our math skills fail us, that means Herald owner Pat Purcell gets $1.5 million less from a sale to Revolution, while employees at the shaky local tabloid get $2.25 million more.

Maybe that’s why “[the] new bid drew immediate praise from the Communications Workers of America, which represents more than 100 unionized workers at the Herald,” according to Chesto.

But Poynter Institute media business analyst Rick Edmonds points to Revolution’s acquisition of the Tampa Tribune in 2012, which it then sold to Poynter, owner of the Tampa Tribune, four years later. Edmonds told Chesto he thinks Revolution would likewise flip the Herald in a few years.

Long-term, Edmonds said, “[GateHouse does] make cuts themselves, and they have profit targets that they’re trying to hit. [But] they have a body of resources and competence that I don’t think Revolution Capital has.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the bankruptcy judge sorts that out.


John Henry Held Hostage by Boston Herald, Day One

December 14, 2017

From our Hark! The Herald! desk

It’s always entertaining – and sometimes enlightening – when the Boston Herald covers itself, and this story in today’s edition is no exception.

Judge approves Herald to continue business as usual

The Herald’s lights will stay on and it can pay most of its bills during the bankruptcy process, a Delaware judge ruled, as the newspaper enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy eyeing a late February sale to GateHouse Media.

Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein yesterday gave interim approval for business at the Herald to continue mostly as usual, including paying for utilities, payroll and insurance policies, as lawyers piece through the newspaper’s bankruptcy filing and GateHouse’s $4.5 million offer.

 

But not to pay the selfie local tabloid’s printer. “Herald bankruptcy attorney Bill Baldiga said the judge delayed approving payments to The Boston Globe for amounts owed for printing, delivery, inserts and paper returns, given uncertainty about the totals.”

What’s absolutely certain, though, is that the Herald owes the Globe “an estimated $600,000,” according to the former’s bankruptcy filing reproduced in the Boston Business Journal.

So it might not be a coincidence that Globe publisher John Henry wrote this mash note atop today’s editorial page.

Pat Purcell’s service to Boston

Patrick J. Purcell, longtime owner and publisher of the Boston Herald, is someone who has spent most of his adult life tending to the most essential task of our democracy: leading civic conversations in Boston that are sometimes contentious but are invariably important. While his efforts on behalf of journalism for the city are very well known, the personal impact he has had on so many over decades isn’t as familiar.

Our city knows Purcell as the driven media executive who bought the Herald from Rupert Murdoch in 1994. But he’s also unfailingly described as a loyal friend and devoted family man, who landed here after a colorful career in New York and became a Bostonian to his core.

 

Of course, Henry wouldn’t be so crass as to include an invoice in the editorial, although he did mention the Globe’s printing facility:

“I was giving Pat a tour of the Globe’s new print facility in Taunton about a year ago and as we walked through, people would seek him out just to shake his hand and thank him for things he had quietly done for them personally, or for something he had done to help a family member or associate.”

Guilt . . . guilt . . . guilt . . .

The bankruptcy court will address payments to the Globe on January 4. We’ll see if Henry’s still feeling this collegial after that.


Greater Boston Papers Galvin-ized by State Secrecy

March 14, 2015

Well the hardreading staff opened up the old emailbag and here’s what poured out:

This week, The Boston Globe stands with the Patriot Ledger, the Boston Herald, and all of GateHouse Media Massachusetts in an unprecedented, coordinated condemnation of Secretary of State William Galvin’s rulings on the state’s public records law.

These newspapers will each publish editorials on open-records issues as part of a unique statewide collaboration amongst these news organizations. The Boston Globe’s editorial, now available online at BostonGlobe.com, will run in the print edition of the Sunday Boston Globe on March 15th.

 

Sneak peek:

With Mass. public records law in tatters, it’s time for reform

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WHEN AN ordinary citizen requests basic government records in Massachusetts, he or she often faces frustrating delays and opacity. The Commonwealth has remained notoriously weak in providing public records, since the laws governing them are essentially toothless, and thus easily ignored.

Recent rulings, however, have made a bad situation intolerably worse. By interpreting regulations governing the privacy of criminal records too broadly, Secretary of State William Galvin’s office has established the police as the arbiters and censors of arrest records. In one recent case described in a story this week by Globe reporter Todd Wallack, Galvin’s office ruled that Boston police can withhold the names of five police officers who were caught driving drunk.

 

The Boston Herald ran its editorial in today’s edition, which – thanks to the unusual calculus of the Herald’s circulation – actually might have a higher readership than tomorrow’s.

Time for ‘Sunshine’

So here it is the eve of Sunshine Week and we in Massachusetts have precious little to celebrate.

With every passing day the state’s public records law — never one of the best in the nation, but hardly in the sorry state it finds itself today — is being nickel-and-dimed to death by regulations and the bureaucrats who interpret them.

Case in point, a series of recent rulings by the secretary of state’s office that effectively put off limits to the press and the public a host of information about arrests and criminal records.

We credit the reporting of The Boston Globe’s Todd Wallack with bringing this situation to light in an article in Wednesday’s edition. And today we stand with our colleagues at the Globe, the Patriot Ledger (and others in the GateHouse Media family) that are running similar editorials — in condemning a practice that threatens not just the ability of the press to do its job but public safety as well.

 

We really are close to the end times when the frosty local tabloid gives the Globe credit for anything.

Then again, the Patriot Ledger also credits Wallack in its editorial, which begins this way:

Giving police discretion to keep public arrest records secret is criminal

The Patriot Ledger stands with the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and GateHouse Media against Galvin’s rulings on state’s public records law

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Massachusetts police now have sweeping discretion to decide which criminal records they will – and will not – release to the public, according to a series of rulings made by Secretary of State William Galvin.

That level of discretion should not exist.

Police should never have the power to shield the identities of those they arrest or keep information about arrests secret. Given their role in our society, police should always be transparent – most especially when one of their own is charged with a crime.

 

Further on: “In a March 11 Globe article, “With Mass. OK, police withhold criminal records,” Todd Wallack reports Galvin’s office “decided that many records related to criminal charges are exempt from the Massachusetts public records law, giving individual police chiefs and other officials the power to decide what to release or keep secret …”

The Patriot Ledger calls the triple-teaming “an unprecedented, coordinated condemnation of Galvin’s rulings on the state’s public records law.”

We doubt this coordination will become a regular feature in the local press, but nice to see precedent broken every now and again.