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

First thoughts on the CNC deal

I’m running out the door in a few minutes, so just some random observations about the announced deal that will leave Pat Purcell in charge of the Boston Herald. (The Boston Globe covers the story here; the Herald here.)

— Whenever he’s met with the troops during the past few years, newsroom sources say that Purcell has always emphasized what a godsend his 100-paper Community Newspaper Co. chain has been in shoring up the Herald. Even though Purcell says the Herald will now be debt-free, how well can the Herald be expected to do as a standalone product? Or is another shoe going to drop?

— What kind of a steward will Liberty Group Publishing prove to be? The Illinois-based company is purchasing not just Purcell’s CNC chain but also the Enterprise of Brockton and the Patriot Ledger of Quincy — a deal valued at a total of about $400 million. This puts nearly all of Greater Boston’s medium and small newspapers in the hands of out-of-state corporations, including such well-known papers as the Sun of Lowell, the Eagle Tribune of Lawrence, the Standard-Times of New Bedford, the Salem News and the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester. (The T&G, as you may recall, is owned by the New York Times Co., which also owns the Boston Globe.)

— The Herald reports that Liberty Group is changing its name to GateHouse Media. How well-thought-out is that move? Click here, and you’ll see that there’s already a GateHouse Media in the U.K.

— What about the Internet? Purcell owns not two companies but three: the Herald, CNC and Herald Media, which is the parent company for both the Herald’s and CNC’s online presence. Neither the Herald nor the Globe today explain how that’s going to shake out, although a separate chart in the Globe’s print edition lists Purcell’s Town Online site as part of the deal. Whatever the case, unless the Web holdings are broken up, the site is going to host papers owned by different companies.

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  1. AmusedbutInformedObserver

    The Herald is dead as a doornail. Just waiting for the real estate deal that’ll be the final nail. Expect an attempt to form a JOA first, though.

  2. BosPhotog

    Herald is strengthened by this. Two paper town it stays. The Metro tabloid? What’s that a collection of wire copy and Boston Globe “sloppy seconds”? Seems to me that the Boston Herald stays put and, with an improved website,continues to buck the odds as it always has.Haven’t we seen this before? Was it’82 with Hearst? Granted it was a much different climate back then Some bad decisions aside, isn’t the Herald the heart and sole of the city itself? and…hasn’t the Herald, with a much smaller staff, held it’s own against the Globe and even outdone them on occasion? Yes the naysayers and Herald bashers will have a field day on this one, probably citing advertising trends and the tough environment for a the 2nd paper in a two paper town, but I say Go Herald!

  3. Anonymous

    When addressing the troops in the past year, Purcell would continously lauded Phil Anschutz’s “Examiner” model – a free daily distributed to homes throughout San Francisco and Washington DC. In DC it goes to 260,000 homes and in 1,700 boxes. It’s about a third of the Post’s circ. Purcell loved to say that only 15 percent of revenue came from news stand and deliveries and it’s possible to make this model work here by eliminating costs and pushing ad revenue. The DC paper started with only 16 reporters.OK, Purcell doesn’t have the deep pockets of Anschutz – he not only subsidizes his papers out of his own wallet but he also produces movies (heard of the “Chronicles of Narnia?”) and owns part of the Lakers – but he made an agreement to continue to use articles generated by his former Community Newspaper (what’s that all about?)which will save on employees. Don’t be surprised that once he sells the Herald’s South End plant and offices for a pretty penny that we’ll see a new free daily in town. All in all, I would rather see a stripped down, new Herald doing some of the journalism it does best – business, sports, trashy tab stories (I mean, really, who is going to keep a tab on the Kennedy’s?) – then to live in a town with only one daily. Can you just imagine if the Globe was the only game in town? The horror, the horror.

  4. TedEMTP

    I’ve got news for you — the Herald is already dead. The days when it regularly beat the Globe on anything are over. It can’t even claim to be a newspaper. It’s Us Weekly on newsprint. Reading it is a daily dose of having your heart broken over what the Herald was and what it could be. I’d rather live in a one paper town if the Herald is going to debase itself for another 20 years covering celebrity gossip and assorted crap.

  5. Anonymous

    Well, the days when the Globe breaks much of anything of value to people’s lives are over, too, so it sounds like the playing field is level.

  6. BosPhotog

    Just one more good example of why Boston needs to stay a two paper town can be found in both the Herald and the Globe today (Monday May 8 ’06) Very late Saturday night a well known peace activist mom loses her second son to violence. Both papers had COMMUNITY sources that “dropped a dime” on exactly who this victim was. *AT NOON NO TV CREWS at scene* Police had not given out the victim’s name until 5:30pm the next day (Sunday)…Both papers had teams there interviewing and photographing all day Sunday.*STILL NO TV CREWS AT 3pm* The Herald took it one step further by having Peter Gelzinis, the heart and soul of the Herald and the city, spin his yarn. *5PM and STILL NO TV CREWS*…7 dead in a week, as the Herald puts it and NO TV…No tv even after the police had given out the Mendes name. Can you say institutional memory failure? Alright, now it’s 9ish Monday morning and wbz radio still has not mentioned this stry….hmmm, I wonder how the tv will play this one today.

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