By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Rupe to Herald: Drop dead!*

Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey has a blockbuster this morning — although you can snicker, if you like, about how far he had to travel to get it. It seems that international media mogul Rupert Murdoch is negotiating to print 30,000 to 40,000 copies of his New York Post every day at the Globe’s Dorchester headquarters.

As Bailey points out, such a deal would seriously threaten the Boston Herald, which Murdoch rescued in the early 1980s and sold to his longtime protégé Pat Purcell on favorable terms — reportedly less than $20 million — in 1994. Writes Bailey:

I love the New York Post; it is one of my great guilty pleasures. But having a smarter, livelier tabloid more readily available in Boston — even a New York tab — will do Purcell no good. For the Globe printing the Post represents new revenue; hurting the Herald is a bonus.

I’ve never been among those who believed Murdoch would someday swoop into Boston to rescue his former underling. But I also never believed Murdoch would deliberately hammer a nail in the Herald’s coffin, either.

Bailey also reports that Purcell’s efforts to sell the Herald and his 100-paper suburban chain are moving forward hesitantly, with Purcell rejecting a bid of between $160 million to $170 million. Have newspaper values deteriorated that much in the past year? Last year at this time, I reported that the Hollinger chain — in a rare break from its troubles with former head Conrad Black — had offered $240 million to $260 million for Purcell’s properties.

Then again, it was never clear just how serious that offer was. All we know is that the sale didn’t happen. And perhaps it won’t again.

*If you don’t get the reference, click here.

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  1. Specks

    With the slime Purcell counts as friends, who needs enemies?

  2. Anonymous

    In that I believe the Herald’s readership is largely due to its sports section and free giveaways, I’m not sure how much this hurts.

  3. Steve

    I have to agree with Anon 8:31 – I don’t see how this will hurt th Herald much if at all. Why would a Herald reader prefer the NY Post? The Post would have no Boston or Massachusetts news and no local sports. Worse yet, the Post will have NY sports! The horror! What self-respecting Herald reader wants that?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Steve and Anon 8:31 make a great deal of sense. But does anyone doubt that Murdoch knows his business? If he thinks he can sell up to 40,000 copies of the New York Post in the Boston market, I think we ought to take him seriously.

  5. Anonymous

    All the Boston sports fans who “hate” New York sports teams are also completely obsessed with New York sports teams. Plus, try this exercise: Look at the person on your left. Now look at the person on your right. ONE of them is a Yankees fan. And the other one misses reading about Pedro every day. Plus, people who like tabloids love the New York Post. This is very bad news for the Herald.

  6. Anonymous

    Perhaps a gambit by Rupert to buy back the Herald? Fact remains that all the attention by the Globe to World Events is time not spent on local news, their weak spot. Ironic, given their zoned editions.

  7. Mark

    Dan, What makes you think he’s going to sell the copies he prints at on Morrissey Blvd.?

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 12:39 — How long ago did you stop reading the Globe? These days, it usually runs an all- or mostly local page one, even to the point of favoring secondary local stories over important national and international news.Today is typical: five stories on page one, and four are local. Only one of those — the Kevin Cullen/Michele McDonald features on the injured Iraqi boy who was treated in Boston — is obviously worth front-page treatment.

  9. Anonymous

    Bailey refers to the Globe’s superior “color capabilities”. You’d never know it by the incomprehensible abstract art that finds its way into my paper on a regular basis. Also Bailey should be issued a “hubris alert”. For some reason, this wonderful writer appears incapable of reading his own copy on the radio in the morning. I realize this is a different skill set, (and harder than it would seem), but is it too much to ask for him to be able to read (without stumbling) what he himself just wrote?

  10. Anonymous

    All due respect, you are all missing the point.The loss of the printing revenue is just as much a factor to The Herald.Unless it is a loss in confidence from Murdock has in the Herald’s future.Otherwise, why would a New York paper, that competes with his own, hire the New York Times, sister, hire them for printing?

  11. Anonymous

    DK,Point taken, (although I’m not sure how Jack Abramoff or CVS pharmacists moving from RI to FL for the winter is “local”). Is “breaking” news a better description? Guess I’m just one of those guys that reads the City/Region section first.12:39

  12. Anonymous

    Rupert is nothing if not an opportunist. Just as his New York Post is playing footsie with Hillary Clinton, he thinks he knows which was the wind is blowing in Beantown.

  13. Wes

    Let’s not overlook the fact the RM – News Corp – purchased 25 acres of prime Boston real estate from Frank McCourt, who needed the cash for his Dodgers. I’ve no idea what News Corp plans, but some exec was quoted saying that they are planning to locate HQ in Boston.

  14. amusedbutobjectiveobserver

    Still hoping Lee Enterprises will get the Herald. Can’t wait to read “Lee Enterprises, parent company of The Herald, owns 4 percent of the Cardinals” in every National League game rup.Better yet, let’s watch it go to the Chicago Trib, “The Cubs, which are owned by The Herald’s parent company…”Remember, it’s a real estate deal first, and a deal for the suburban dailies and shoppers second. The Boston Herald is not a desireable property.

  15. Anonymous

    What is the point ABOO?

  16. Anonymous

    Doesn’t ABOO work at the “Quiki-Mart”?

  17. Anonymous

    This is what I posted on Mark’s Blog:This is a cunning and calculating Murdoch at work. This guy is very smart and has very good nose for the trends. This guy doesn’t care about Britain (a mere stepping stone to the US market.) He doesn’t care about the US (too many journalistic proofs to cite.) He obviously doesn’t even care about Australia, his ‘mother’ country (at least let’s note he really really wanted to uproot/bolt with his empire from the Aussie Stock market to NY.) He doesn’t even care for his many wives of many years. He dumps them after many years and kids together. He doesn’t even care about his kids after he’s groomed them for the jobs for a long time. He dumps them or makes them feel useless and unwanted overnight. He doesn’t even care about his shareholders (who routinely mount a no-confidence vote every year as his End of Year Christmas gift) except for one shareholder: HIM. And you want him to care about the Herald??? Wake up. This guy is successful because he constantly knows the bad waves from the more decent ones. His operations in Britain are daily venom towards labor and the LibDems with a very Pro-Britain anti-eu anti-euro ra-ra Tory stance yet he has endorsed Tony Blair in every election and his papers endorse him publicly come election time. We know how cozy he is with the GOP or the 43rd admin yet we know he is cozying up to Hillary and has been going soft on her. He went to do business in China and now sees how other major news/content companies are bitten by the treacherous business landcape there and how it could affect consumer sentiment as well as stock price here in the US and sure enough, backtracks out of China. He sees the Herald as a shaky partner. He’ll defy conventional wisdom and partner with a company you’d think he abhores. He doesn’t want to be seen as some sort of savior for a struggling company. That will rub off on him. People will start thinking that he is one of the suitors and that shareholders will start questioning this new relationship and his stock price would take a hit since analysts would suspect an natural takover of a struggling company that is going to weigh down on a profitable Newscorp media portfolio. Old Rupert knows better. He knows what horse to bet on. The Globe is not really what you’d call a favorite colt right now but the Herald is definitely the obvious weaker of the two. Furthermore, he could be trying to undermine the Herald media perception by partnering with a rival to drive its market value down, a subtle way to bring Purcell out of his 200 Million dreams back to earth. Who the heck knows. And that’s what makes Rupert so adept and rich. He is unpredictable and a sneaky SOB. You can never rely on him nor can you count him out. ‘Fortune favors the brave,’ as he likes to say. Serbia is falling apart and Bosnia has just lost its president. There is new rise in tensions there with increased Serbian influence/nationlism and guess what? This guy is there launching a new network. Now just imagine giving hotheaded Serbians something like FoxNews..can you say…lighting a match in a can of fuel? But the guys smells opportunity there and his brand of crassness is going to cash in. His businesses are shaky in Britain. Sky is seeing declinging memberships and ratings but somepapers still do ok. Without the US, Newscorp would not look nearly as an attractive asset to own. It’s like Lexus: a sales success for us automtive suckers in the US market but a sales failure EVERYwhere else in the world, including its home market, Japan. My question is: Are we going to see more layoffs with this added business or even better, a rehiring wave at Morrissey for those displaced pinkslipped workers? Let’s put Rupert’s money to some use at least. N.

  18. Anonymous

    You are all missing the point, starting with you Dan. Bombshell? Hardly. Murdoch would always give Purcell his business if possible — but in this case, it’s not possible. The Herald can’t accomodate printing the Post. So Murdoch goes to the guys with the press capacity to handle the job. Other than throwing some bucks to the NY Times — and that’s if this deal ever happens — how does this hurt the Herald? You can already easily buy the Post in Boston. Why not ask how many copies of the Post are being sold here already? Is there a demand for more? Is printing it here really going to change newspaper consumption in Boston? The Post is never going to hurt the Herald more than the NY Times hurts sales of the Globe…

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