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

Another blow to the Herald

Adam Reilly of the Phoenix has a good wrap-up of the latest changes at the Boston Herald — and an even better blog item.

It seems that GateHouse Media, the Fairport, N.Y.-based corporation to which Herald owner Pat Purcell sold his Community Newspaper Co. (CNC) chain earlier this year, is seeking an online divorce.

At the moment, CNC’s Web presence is through Town Online, part of Purcell’s Herald Interactive. But GateHouse wants to switch to Wicked Local, a promising blend of traditional newspaper content and reader contributions rolled out in Plymouth by the parent company of the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, which GateHouse acquired at the same time that it bought CNC. (The Ledger and its progeny, the Enterprise of Brockton and a string of weeklies, were folded into CNC at the time of the sale.)

It’s been pretty obvious for some time that CNC major domo Kirk Davis, brought in from the Ledger papers, has regarded Wicked Local as the future. Plug in the name of any Eastern Massachusetts town, like hamilton.wickedlocal.com, sharon.wickedlocal.com or framingham.wickedlocal.com, and you’ll be taken straight to the Plymouth site. The names have been reserved, and it’s just a matter of setting them up with their own content.

CNC and the Herald still share stories. But that will continue only for as long as Davis thinks it’s in CNC’s best interest.

Updates: (1) MTS is no fun, but he’s right; (2) the Globe’s Robert Gavin quotes me in a “what it means” piece; (3) a bit of clarification: the expiration of GateHouse’s agreement with Town Online was agreed to at the time of the sale earlier this year. This may be a blow to Purcell, but it’s a blow he knew was coming for months.


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5 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Pat Purcell had to have seen this coming. I hope the Herald lasts long enough for Globe ownership to pass to new owners who will acknowledge the necessity of a JOA with the Herald.

  2. mike_b1

    “like getting rid of the Track Girls — … and replacing them with a couple of gossip columnists a few decades younger”Smile of the week.

  3. MeTheSheeple

    iamcompletelynuts.wickedlocal.com also goes to the Plymouth site, so it’s presumably more a question of computer configuration than in-depth corporate planning…. Unfortunately for the industry.

  4. BosPhotog

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2006/12/01/journal_register_to_sell_mass_papers/Thanksgiving is over but it looks as if Gatehouse is still Gobbling…Gobbling up more LOCAL newspapers…Ouch!

  5. MeTheSheeple

    Bosphotog: It’s interesting how much consolidation is changing things.Just a year ago, the city of Taunton had several competitors:– Taunton Gazette, a JRC daily– Taunton Call, an independent weekly– Silver City Bulletin, run by Attleboro’s Sun Chronicle– and an incredibly thorough reporter for the Brockton Enterprise.Then the Call Group was bought by the chain that owned the Brockton paper.Somewhere in there, the Brockton Enterprise folks decided to up the ante, and came out with a Taunton front to an otherwise Brockton-ish paper, inventing the Taunton Enterprise. The Brockton paper had been making good penetration into Taunton.Then the Call Group and its parents, who also own the Brockton paper, were all bought up by Gatehouse.And today we learn that the Taunton Gazette is getting bought by Gatehouse.Will Gatehouse keep all four of its publications covering Taunton (Gazette, Call, Brockton Enterprise, Taunton Enterprise)? Something tells me not. Which means that not only is competition substantially reduced, but at least some of those papers were bought only to be destroyed or dismantled.Disclaimer: I’ve done some work for two of the publications mentioned.

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