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

The Herald’s landlord

Only a fool would suggest that Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell is obligated to go broke trying to save his struggling newspaper. But you’d think that at a time like this — when people are leaving and those who remain are having their wages frozen — that Purcell the landlord would ease up on Purcell the publisher. Apparently not.

In the new Weekly Dig, Paul McMorrow claims that, in fact, the Herald must pay hefty rent to Purcell for the right to use its own building. McMorrow writes:

[T]he possible rent figures floated by insiders — we heard numbers as high as $250,000 a month — make one wonder whether Purcell is gorging himself while bleeding his own paper dry. One insider noted that while Purcell asks his employees to take $12-a-week pay cuts, he maintains a manse in Weston and large vacation homes in Vermont and Martha’s Vineyard.

Purcell’s spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny any rent scenario we raised.

Apart from the haziness of “possible rent figures floated by insiders,” this does raise a serious question. As McMorrow notes, Purcell’s mantra is that the Herald has to stand on its own. But you’d think that Purcell could at least consider the Herald’s building part of, you know, the Herald.

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  1. mike_b1

    This is starting to sound an awful lot like Conrad Black’s wringing of Hollinger International, whose assets include Chicago’s corollary to the Herald, the Sun-Times. In Black’s case, he purchased the profitable papers for pennies on the dollar from the very company he controlled, while sticking Hollinger, the holding company, with tons of dead assets and bad businesses. Even better, he charged Hollinger a hefty consulting fee for the transactions. He even bought himself a peerage.Perhaps we should start calling him (Land)Lord Purcell.

  2. ben

    The Herald’s building shouldn’t neccessarily be considered part of the Herald. Rather, if he was a high minded person, he’d have the Herald pay what would amount to market rate for the building he owns. No obligation (or good reason) to take less as, if the paper needs to be subsidized it probably shouldn’t exist.

  3. Anonymous

    let’s not forget memberships at Wellesley CC, TPC Boston, Winged foot and Farm Neck. I wonder who pays the membership fees on those?

  4. Anonymous

    It’s hard to imagine $3 million a year is market rate. The building is a dump. Who else would rent it?

  5. Dan Kennedy

    The location is incredible — or at least it will be if the Big Dig ever gets finished. If that $3 million figure has any basis in reality, it may be based on the fact that developers are drooling over it. But that begs the question, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t Purcell give his own paper a break now when he knows he’s going to be able to cash in later?

  6. amusedbutinformedobserver

    I’ve said it before and shall now say it again: Purcell’s ownership of the Herald is about the real estate. Take some time some day and cruise the Mickey Roach memorial Web site (a/k/a Suffolk Registry of Deeds) and trace ALL the holders of stakes in Wingo Square and the massive credit lines that are secured by this property.

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