Monday, August 05, 2013

Boston Globe – Sold –NY Times Lost Big – Papers-Media Spar over Politics, LA Times Fears Conservative Buyer



As the newspaper industry has made adjustments over the past few decades, blaming, for the most part, the internet as its biggest nemesis, the net worth of newspapers, has declined, along with readership and the all-important advertiser. The logic is that due to the rise of the internet, fewer people are reading the paper – which in some small measure maybe true, however, one might look to the politics behind the paper to find the real reasoning behind the decline of the influence of print. (Not to mention the dismal reading abilities of anyone who’s gone through the public school system in this nation since the 1970’s, when overall global scores began to decline, making individuals incapable of reading the paper.)

The sale of the Boston Globe has come under some scrutiny as the individual who purchased the paper, John Henry, who has a heavy interest in the Boston Red Sox, and has, throughout his lifetime, given heavily to the DNC and Progressive candidates, which is causing a bit of angst as he donated millions to Democrats and only a thousand to a Republican(Red Mass Group). That said, the man under the microscope for the moment, made made zero donations to political groups in 2012, according to the Sunlight Foundation:

The Red Sox are another team with a large front office, boasting 14 partners with a stake in the team. The face of the ownership, John Henry, didn't donate anything -- but others more than made up for that. Larry Lucchino, the team's president and CEO, provided the bulk of the Democratic donations, including some for Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass. Other partners skewed to the right, making hefty contributions to former Mass. Gov. Romney, former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, among other Republicans. (Sunlight Foundation)

Therefore, one might conclude, the man is most likely the norm in Massachusetts, one who stands firmly on the fence when it comes to politics, the unenrolled voter. That’s a hypothesis of course, and the proof would be in the pudding, should the editorial bent of the paper become more balanced as to its backing of one party over the other.

The Globe itself, is reporting that three groups topped the bid offered by Henry:

John Gormally, a Springfield television station owner and publisher of BusinessWest magazine, said that after meeting the Times Co.’s final bid deadline on July 26, he heard nothing from the company until a week later, in the early hours of Saturday morning, when an e-mail around 3 a.m. from the investment bankers announced the sale to Henry.

“I was surprised. Our offer was considerably higher than Henry’s,” Gormally said, at the “upper range” of the $65 million to $80 million the Globe had previously reported for bids. He noted that the Times Co., as a public company, has a responsibility to shareholders to maximize value. “All the bidders expended considerable time, energy, money, and the process was not transparent at the end to the bidders,’’ Gormally said. Robert Loring, a Massachusetts native and founder of Revolution Capital, a West Coast investment company that owns the Tampa Tribune, also said his bid was larger than Henry’s, and included $80 million in cash.

Loring, too, said he was taken by surprise when he learned Henry had won, and was disappointed by how the bidding was handled.

“We felt we had a strong offer for the company and we had a strong offer for management. We felt we were the best buyer for the business,’’ Loring said. But, he added, “It’s the way it goes sometimes — you win some and you lose some.’’

Meanwhile, another bidder, John Lynch, chief executive of the U-T San Diego newspaper, told the Globe on Sunday his group was the “highest bidder,” but would not give the precise sum of the offer. In response to questions from the Globe, Lynch said in an e-mail, “It was clear they didn’t want to sell to us, or wanted to sell to Henry.’
(Boston Globe)

John Lynch, who owns the Union Tribune, is also seen as hostile in Los Angles, as the Times worries over its future :

The New York Times Co. sold the Boston Globe to John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, for a mere $70 million — the NYT paid more than a billion for the Globe and related assets in 1993. That's not the interesting part for Los Angeles, though it does suggest the prices are coming down for distressed newspaper companies. What caught my eye is that the losing bid for the Globe was posted by Doug Manchester, the owner who converted the San Diego Union-Tribune into a partisan Republican organ and who pronounced that his U-T would be boosterish, business friendly and anti-Obama. Manchester's group offered more money for the Globe and was willing to go higher, but the NYT company apparently didn't want to sell to them.

So now that Manchester's aspirations to buy a paper beyond San Diego are both confirmed and unrequited, he has to be considered a player for the Los Angeles Times. Buying the LA Times would seem to make more strategic sense vis-a-vis San Diego, if Manchester can afford it. From Boston media observer Dan Kennedy:
(Los Angeles Times)

The editorial stance is as good as the owners/and the editors they hire to run their papers, which is true of any business, but to make a business profitable, and not loose, oh billions, one might want to review why they are missing nearly fifty percent of their potential circulation. It may not be the internet – it may just be the overt political stance and fear of conservatives in publishing that would be the benchmark. The political standstill in DC, is clearly in the newsrooms, with fewer conservative voices in print media, one might wonder what the staff over at the LA Times is so concern about? The “right-wing” might actually save their jobs - or more to the point – an owner/publisher, who is smart enough to take politics out of the paper, with the exception of articles on politics, and stay clear of choosing sides (as they parse their phrases), This would see a return of the 50% of those who dropped the paper because (using some local Massachusetts colloquialisms) “it’s a communist rang, the mouthpiece of (name an elected official), etc.

It is doubtful however, that any publication would attempt to print without an editorial bent in any news piece, and as the majority of publishers, (and this also goes for broadcast), push one over the other, they will end up with the half-share, rather than the full share of audience one might have it one did straight reporting and left he editorial on the designated page.

So, if Henry is a screaming Democrat, or John Lynch, a right-wing Republican, does it matter, as little if nothing will be done to change the profile of the nations once-great, once trusted, source of information –the Daily News.

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