Boston Herald Declares Bankruptcy, Sale to Gatehouse Media

Publisher Pat Purcell announced the news on Friday afternoon.

Longtime Boston Herald owner and publisher Pat Purcell announced on Friday that the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and that he plans to sell the storied newspaper to Gatehouse Media, a New York-based company that owns 130 daily newspapers.

Purcell, who was named publisher in 1984 and acquired the Herald in the early 1990s from his mentor Rupert Murdoch, told staffers that Gatehouse plans to acquire the company for $4.5 million, according to tweets from Herald reporter Bob McGovern. Purcell said that he had reinvested roughly $60 million in the Herald in recent years. “We made money up until two years ago,” Purcell told the newsroom.

It is too early to say what this mean’s for the paper’s staff or future, but seeing the city’s second newspaper leave local hands is cause for concern. As Boston reported in 2016, Purcell had taken numerous steps to keep the Herald profitable under his lead, including selling off its old headquarters in the South End, and he was as committed as anyone to maintaining a voice and viewpoint that was not the Globe.

According to McGovern’s tweets from the announcement, Purcell said that the Boston Globe did not express interest acquiring the Herald. Herald reporter O’Ryan Johson, meanwhile, tweeted that “Gatehouse has vowed to keep 175 of 228 jobs,” but that employees will be expected to reapply for their jobs in January.

The paper issued a statement noting that it has struggled to find a viable business model in the digital era. “The Herald (BHI), hindered like many other newspapers with significant pension and retirement liabilities as well as declining revenue with the onset of digital media and a growing variety of news originators and aggregators, had some 900 employees at its peak in 2000,” the statement noted. “Today it has 240; more than 120 of them work in the newsroom.”

Gatehouse’s takeover of the Herald is subject to court approval.