Tag Archives: Adam Gaffin

Why Rupert Murdoch probably won’t buy the Herald

Published earlier at WGBHNews.org.

Here’s the answer to today’s Newspaper Jeopardy question: “Maybe, if there’s a willing buyer and seller.”

Now for the question: “With Rupert Murdoch getting out of the Boston television market, is there any chance that he would have another go with the Boston Herald?”

Following Tuesday’s announcement that Cox Media Group would acquire WFXT-TV (Channel 25) from Murdoch’s Fox Television Stations as part of a Boston-San Francisco station swap, there has been speculation as to whether Murdoch would re-enter the Boston newspaper market. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin raises the issue here; the Boston Business Journal’s Eric Convey, a former Herald staff member, addresses it as well. I’ve also heard from several people on Facebook.

First, the obvious: There would be no legal obstacles if Murdoch wants to buy the Herald. The FCC’s cross-ownership prohibition against a single owner controlling a TV station and a daily newspaper in the same market would no longer apply.

Now for some analysis. Murdoch is 83 years old, and though he seems remarkably active for an octogenarian, I have it on good authority that he, like all of us, is not going to live forever. Moreover, in 2013 his business interests were split, and his newspapers — which include The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and the New York Post — are now in a separate division of the Murdoch-controlled News Corp. No longer can his lucrative broadcasting and entertainment properties be used to enhance his newspapers’ balance sheets.

Various accounts portray Murdoch as the last romantic — the only News Corp. executive who still has a soft spot for newspapers. The Herald would not be a good investment because newspapers in general are not good investments, and because it is the number-two daily in a mid-size market. Moreover, the guilty verdict handed down to former News of the World editor Andy Coulson in the British phone-hacking scandal Tuesday suggests that Murdoch may be preoccupied with other matters.

On the other hand, who knows? Herald owner Pat Purcell is a longtime friend and former lieutenant of Murdoch’s, and if Rupe wants to stage a Boston comeback, maybe Purcell could be persuaded to let it happen. Even while owning the Herald, Purcell continued to work for Murdoch, running what were once the Ottaway community papers — including the Cape Cod Times and The Standard-Times of New Bedford — from 2008 until they were sold to an affiliate of GateHouse Media last fall.

There is a storied history involving Murdoch and the Herald. Hearst’s Herald American was on the verge of collapse in 1982 when Murdoch swooped in, rescued the tabloid and infused it with new energy. Murdoch added to his Boston holdings in the late 1980s, acquiring Channel 25 and seeking a waiver from the FCC so that he could continue to own both.

One day as that story was unfolding, then-senator Ted Kennedy was making a campaign swing through suburban Burlington. As a reporter for the local daily, I was following him from stop to stop. Kennedy had just snuck an amendment into a bill to deny Rupert Murdoch the regulatory waiver he was seeking that would allow him to own both the Herald and Channel 25 (Kennedy’s amendment prohibited a similar arrangement in New York). At every stop, Herald reporter Wayne Woodlief would ask him, “Senator, why are you trying to kill the Herald?”

The episode also led Kennedy’s most caustic critic at the Herald, columnist Howie Carr, to write a particularly memorable lede: “Was it something I said, Fat Boy?” Years later, Carr remained bitter, telling me, “Ted was trying to kill the paper in order to deliver the monopoly to his friends” at The Boston Globe.

Murdoch sold Channel 25, but in the early 1990s he bought it back — and sold the Herald to Purcell, who’d been publisher of the paper, reporting to Murdoch, for much of the ’80s. It would certainly be a fascinating twist on this 30-year-plus newspaper tale if Murdoch and Purcell were to change positions once again.

Solidarity forever

I don’t have the time or inclination right now to delve into the details, but you can click. (Start here.) I just want to note that Friend of Media Nation Ron Newman has been dealing with an extremely litigious guy named Jonathan Monsarrat, and that another Friend of Media Nation, Adam Gaffin, has come to Ron’s aid.

This is important for all of us who blog independently. Ron and Adam are two of the stalwarts of Boston’s online community, and they have my support. They deserve yours, too.

More: I’m moving this up from the comments. Steve Stein notes that a legal defense fund has been set up to help Ron and others associated with the Davis Square LiveJournal blog.

June 19 update: Newman reports that the lawsuit has been dropped.

The end of the road for four Boston neighborhood papers

One of the many wonderful things about living in Greater Boston is the abundance of community and neighborhood newspapers — something we take for granted, but that is rare in other parts of the country.

So it was sad news when Dorchester Reporter managing editor Bill Forry wrote on Thursday that his competition, the Dorchester Argus-Citizen, had folded, along with its sister papers. A follow-up in today’s Boston Globe by Patrick Rosso tallies the damage: in addition to the Argus-Citizen, the end of the road came for the South Boston Tribune, the Jamaica Plain Citizen and the Hyde Park Tribune.

I don’t know specifically what happened to those family-owned papers. In Dorchester, at least, it seemed that the Reporter had long since eclipsed the Argus-Citizen as that neighborhood’s primary news source. The other neighborhoods have feisty alternatives as well, including the Jamaica Plain Gazette, South Boston Online and the Hyde Park Bulletin.

In general, though, small community weeklies are beset by the same advertising trends that have devastated the rest of the newspaper business. Such papers may not lack for readers, but classified ads have long since moved to Craigslist, and the big box stores that now dominate the landscape simply don’t advertise the way mom-and-pop shops did when every neighborhood had a vibrant retail strip.

At a time when giant newspaper chains own most papers, both the Argus-Citizen and the Reporter are throwbacks. The Reporter was founded by Ed and Mary Forry in 1983, and Bill is their son. Bill is married to state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, which is indicative of the paper’s deep roots in the community, even though it creates dilemmas in covering certain types of stories.

The Reporter also has a well-designed website, put together by Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub.

Writing about the competition’s demise, Bill Forry had this to say:

We’re sad to see that another publication’s time has apparently come to an end. We wish the best for the Horgan family — who lost their father Dan, the papers’ longtime operator, last year. The Argus-Citizen will certainly be remembered for all of the stories it told for many years under his watch. They will live on in microfilm at the BPL and serve as an important record of what it was like to live here.

We salute the men and women who made the Tribune papers part of our community’s history.

Ave atque vale!

Talking about local news in the digital age

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The video from a Sept. 22 event that I moderated at MIT is now online. The program, titled “Local News in the Digital Age,” featured David Dahl, regional editor of the Boston Globe; Callie Crossley, host of “The Callie Crossley Show” on WGBH Radio (89.7) and a regular on WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press” and “Basic Black”; and Adam Gaffin, co-founder, publisher and editor of Boston-area metablog Universal Hub. The first person you’ll see speaking is David Thorburn, a professor of literature at MIT and director of the MIT Communications Forum.

Two hours is a long time to sit in front of your computer watching video. Fortunately, you can download an MP3 here.

Talking online local news at MIT

Please mark this on your calendar — it should be a good one. Next Thursday, Sept. 22, I’ll be moderating a panel on “Local News in the Digital Age,” part of the MIT Communications Forum.

We will have an all-star cast: David Dahl, the Boston Globe’s regional editor, who’s in charge of the paper’s regional editions and the hyperlocal Your Town sites; Callie Crossley, host of “The Callie Crossley Show” on WGBH Radio (89.7 FM) and a fellow panelist on “Beat the Press” (WGBH-TV, Channel 2); and Adam Gaffin, the co-founder, editor and publisher of Universal Hub, Greater Boston’s one essential hyperlocal news site.

The free event will take place from 5o to 7 p.m. in the MIT Media Lab’s Bartos Theater, at 20 Ames St. in Cambridge. It’s being held at the same time that the Online News Association’s annual conference gets under way in Boston, and we’re hoping a few attendees decide to wander over as well.

Introducing Media Nation’s first local sponsor

Due to my recent run-in with the Googletron, I decided to see if I could solicit some local advertising. Today I would like to introduce you to my first: Chan Miller Creative, whose banner ad graces the top of the page.

Go ahead and click — unlike the model that prevails elsewhere online, Media Nation does not charge extra per click. Which means that even I can click through without costing Chan Miller any additional money.

I am deeply appreciative of Chan Miller’s sponsorship of Media Nation, which came about when partner Ken Gornstein responded to this post. I’m hoping to unveil another local sponsor in the near future.

So what happened to Google ads? They’re now in the upper right, below the header, where the Flyerboard used to be. The Flyerboard, administered by the Boston Blogs advertising network, had fallen on hard times. I’ll bring it back if that changes.

Handling the technical details is Adam Gaffin, editor and publisher of Universal Hub. There is no better friend to the Boston blogging community than Adam.

Correcting something I said on “Beat the Press”

If you watched “Beat the Press” on WGBH-TV (Channel 2) this evening, you may recall that I criticized media and court representatives who’ve drafted new guidelines for digital coverage of judicial proceedings.

I said a blogger should have been included in the discussions. And I even had a suggestion: Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub, who’s probably the most respected independent blogger in Greater Boston.

As it turns out, Gaffin was, in fact, a part of those discussions, according to Robert Ambrogi, a media lawyer who is executive director of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association.

Obviously I wish I’d known that before I opened my mouth.

Media Nation’s new business model

The Boston Globe has nothing on Media Nation. Last night, I added Google AdSense above the header in the hopes of generating a bit of revenue. I had tried several years ago, but messed something up and could never straighten it out.

This week, I finally figured out how to undo the damage. The indefatigable Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub — who also supplies local bloggers with the “Flyerboard” ad that appears in the right-hand column — helped me with the coding.

We’ll see what happens.

Patching in to AOL’s Patch (II)

Old friend Mark Leccese, blogging at Boston.com, offers further thoughts on the competition among Patch, GateHouse Media’s Wicked Local sites and Boston.com’s Your Town initiative.

Let me repeat: The most interesting local online journalism is taking place at the grassroots. And no one in Greater Boston does a better job of aggregating it than Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub. If you didn’t know that already, well, now you do.

(Disclosure: Media Nation is part of Gaffin’s Boston Blogs advertising network.)

Earlier item.

Reconnecting with your audience

I’ll be leading a discussion on “Blogging, Social Media and Journalism” tomorrow from 10:45 a.m. to noon at the annual convention of the New England Newspaper & Press Association at the Park Plaza. I’ve put together some slides (above), but I’m conceiving this session as an unconference, and I want to turn it over to the editors and reporters who’ll be attending as quickly as possible.

The blabbing continues. From 3:45 to 5 p.m., Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub and I will lead a workshop on “Writing for the Web.”

Finally, on Saturday from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m., I’ll be taking part in a panel discussion on social media that’s part of the ACLU of Massachusetts “Secrecy, Surveillance and Sunlight” conference at UMass Boston. I’ll be joined by Northeastern University Law School professor Hope Lewis, ACLUM online communications coordinator Danielle Riendeau and ACLUM communications director Christopher Ott.

Now, to get back to those slides (and sorry for the funny line breaks; there’s something about SlideShare that I’m obviously missing). There are a number of examples I’ll be talking about that are worth taking a deeper look at. So I thought I’d post some links here.