John Henry Is the New Owner of the Boston Globe
The New York Times Co. announced the sale of the Boston Globe to Red Sox owner John Henry in a deal confirmed early Saturday.
Henry, who had earlier submitted a joint bid for the paper with his Fenway Sports Group, withdrew and resubmitted a new solo bid last week. He will pay $70 million in an all cash transaction for the Globe, as well as the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and the other properties in the New England Media Group, marking a huge drop in value since the Times Co. bought the papers for $1.1 billion.
“This is a thriving, dynamic region that needs a strong, sustainable Boston Globe playing an integral role in the community’s long-term future,” Henry said in a statement quoted in the New York Times. “In coming days there will be announcements concerning those joining me in this community commitment and effort.”
The purchase means that the Red Sox, and the paper whose historically lauded sports section covers them, will now share a boss. For a snarky speculation on what that partnership will mean, see the lively conversation happening under the #whenjohnhenryownstheglobe hashtag on Twitter, featuring predictions like these:
Staff will be sent to Ft Meyers for annual training. Weak ones sent back to college papers. #whenjohnhenryownstheglobe
— Amy Derjue (@derjue) August 2, 2013
— David S. Bernstein (@dbernstein) August 2, 2013
Stories in first half of the year will be full of hope, get more and more depressing in second half #WhenJohnHenryOwnsTheGlobe
— Jordan Vance (@JordanRVance) August 2, 2013
The New York Times Co. first announced that it would seek a buyer for the Globe and the rest of its New England Media Group in February. In the months since, news has leaked out about several bids coming from a range of potential owners, including the Taylor family from whom the Times first bought the Globe 20 years ago. Potential buyers were reportedly offering between $65 and $80 million, a fraction of the $1.1 billion for which the Times Co. bought the paper. Complicating those talks were discussion of how much of the Times Co.’s current pension liabilities the bidders were willing to take on and how much cash they’d be willing to pay up front, as Bloomberg News explained last month.
Those details having apparently been worked out, Globe employees are undoubtedly bracing themselves for a new era under new ownership. Until the direction Henry is going to take the paper becomes clearer, that’s probably going to be a nerve-wracking prospect. As Adam Reilly wrote for Boston‘s April issue:
Frank Phillips, the paper’s veteran State House bureau chief … [is] not so eager to bid the Times Company farewell.
“I know some of my colleagues think it’ll be interesting, but I like certainty,” Phillips says. “The Times Company is a real news organization. They knew how to run a paper, and they left us alone—they said, ‘Just do your journalism.’ And that’s what we’ve been doing.” Change, he says, is a scary thought: “Just the idea of somebody coming along—a billionaire wanting to have a toy, and thinking this is going to gain him respectability and some influence in Boston—it could be ruinous.”
Let’s all hope those fears aren’t well-founded. Henry is, at the least, someone with local connections, whose other business interests are well served by a vibrant media.