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.

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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.