Public broadcasting powerhouse WGBH is acquiring Boston-based GlobalPost and merging it with Public Radio International in an arrangement that will be finalized later this year.
The move ends GlobalPost’s six-year run as a highly respected independent news outlet focused on international and human rights news. Reports surfaced frequently about the company’s financial issues as it tinkered with its subscription structures.
GlobalPost will offer nine editorial staffers the opportunity to stay on when the company is folded into PRI’s news operation. The GlobalPost brand is not expected to go away completely though, as it will continue to appear in “a newsletter, podcasts and blogs” as well as in pieces that are authored with “the personal perspective from reporters in the field,” according to a post on PRI’s site.
Financial details of the acquisition have not been publicly disclosed.
GlobalPost is the brainchild of Phil Balboni, the founder of New England Cable News and a former manager at WCVB during the Chet and Natalie era.
“We are united in the belief that America needs more, better and deeper international reporting, something to which PRI has devoted over 30 years. We look forward to reaching new heights of international reporting excellence and digital innovation,” Balboni said in a statement.
Longtime Boston media observer and Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy broke the news on Twitter.
Kennedy reported no money will be exchanged in the deal and GlobalPost will move from its headquarters in the North End to WGBH’s spacious building in Brighton.
Boston obtained a copy of the internal memo from PRI vice president Michael Skoler to staffers:
The news that we’ll be bringing GlobalPost into The World’s newsroom and PRI.org is a huge vote of confidence in all we have accomplished in the last couple of years. WGBH and GlobalPost are backing the transition and we’ll be adding talented colleagues, resources, social fans and digital reach.
In the past two years, we’ve refreshed our journalism and our sound, which has won praise from stations. We relaunched our website and upped our game as cross-platform journalists. We have seen our web audience grow over 300%, from an average of 400,000 to 1.3 million monthly unique visitors — with another 2-3 million visitors to our stories on partner sites.
We’ve not only expanded our audience, but we are attracting a new set of fans through our online articles and audio. At PRI.org, 44% of our visitors are under age 35, and 66% are under age 45.
GlobalPost.com has about a million monthly unique visitors to its international news and its stories are syndicated across another couple of dozen sites. Recently, 41% of its visitors have been under age 35. Its mission — “serving the public interest by providing access to accurate, insightful information about the world” — is similar to ours.
There are differences in voice and approach. During conversations over the last few weeks, GlobalPost’s editorial leaders have expressed great respect for what we have accomplished and the quality and style of our journalism. They are excited to be joining our efforts and supporting our voice and approach under our news and digital leadership.
While we won’t have the resources to welcome all of their current staff, we will be taking on nine colleagues – seven journalists, a web developer, and a business development executive. We hope other experienced journalists from the team will work with us as freelancers.
We’ll be providing more information about the new colleagues and arrangements for integrating the team as the agreement between our companies gets finalized in the next month. Our goal is to integrate GlobalPost into PRI.org by February. We’ll be looking for your ideas, energy and smarts as we plan the integration.
Congratulations to all of you. It’s wonderful to be growing our resources and our impact. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, Dave or Andrew.
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