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

Timing is everything

Three months ago I posted the salaries and total compensation packages of the top executives at five troubled newspaper companies, including the New York Times Co., which owns the Boston Globe. Crickets chirped.

Today Christine McConville of the Boston Herald gives us updated Times Co. figures, and it’s the talk of the town — for obvious reasons, given that the Times is demanding a reported $20 million in union givebacks from the Globe as the price of keeping the paper alive.

McConville did some digging. I didn’t know that Globe publisher Steven Ainsley made $1.9 million last year, and the information she’s turned up on options and bonuses is fascinating in a stomach-churning kind of way. You’ve also got to love the nearly $250,000 in moving expenses Ainsley received in 2006.

On WRKO Radio (AM 680) this morning, Tom Finneran and Todd Feinburg were excoriating Times Co. managers for showering themselves with millions while they drove their business into the ground. Media Nation readers know that isn’t right — the entire news industry is falling apart for reasons that go far beyond the ability of the affected companies to turn things around.

But there is a deeper truth, and it isn’t pretty. For years, executives of news organizations — and corporations in general — paid themselves ridiculous amounts of money and argued that it was their expertise that led their companies to be so profitable.

Now we know they were essentially taking credit for the sunrise and paying themselves for it. The fraud has been exposed for all to see.

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  1. NewsHound

    Dan: You are 100% correct that they are paying themselves well for the sunrise.The compensation is equivalent to legalized embezzlement.Certainly the newspaper model is challenged with the Internet and changing lifestyle values and the current economy, but newspaper models were not a place to get rich quick, but instead have a good life working hard, loyal to ethics and devoted to quality.It is all part of the times – that people will continue to live in houses and borrow money to buy them even though home building and finance has collapsed, buy and drive automobiles even though GM is failing, the same as investing for retirement in solid American companies that have failed. There is a collapse of capitalism in this country as a result of the freedom for legalized embezzlement by corporate leaders, and the Globe, its readers and advertisers have not been immune from that abuse either.

  2. The Arranger

    If one thing has been made manifest in the last few months, to even the most die-hard conservative, is that the culture of entitlement that has always been ascribed to the underclass can’t hold a candle to the culture of entitlement that exists in the upper class.Bob in Peabody

  3. Brad

    Does this mean the managers at radio stations (perhaps especially public radio stations) are doing the same thing?Much was made of how much Jane Christo was paying herself at WBUR, but many also argued that it was her vision and effort that took WBUR from dinky little college radio to NPR powerhouse. But Jane was hardly alone in having the six-figure salary…there’s been rumbles (some loud, some soft) about GM’s at many pubradio outlets making more than $200k when their lower employees are barely scraping minimum wage, if not being laid off.And don’t get me started on commercial radio…how much do the higher ups at WRKO make? At that steaming pile of fail, if it’s more than five bucks an hour, it’s too much.

  4. lkcape

    The attitude of entitlement is endemic in our society.CEOs/executives and the bankers are entitled to lose all of their wealth along with the rest who are suffering with stock market losses and asset value declines.Time to begin paying them in the worthless stock of their ravaged companies at an option price of the highest the stock reached during their tenure.Might just sober them up a bit.

  5. NewsHound

    Ikcape – If you read the proxies going out this spring you will see that many of these embezzlers are asking stockholders to approve an increase in stock options because the stock of the company they have destroyed or weakened is valued lower. That’s a lot of nerve.If have to wonder, too, just what is Miss Robinson’s secret management touch and skill to be able to bring many millions of additional wealth to NYC in exchange for her compensation. Anyway, sure beats being an elementary teacher in Somerset.I’d love to know what she does or what she did that, it seems these days, almost anyone else would not have been able to accomplish that is so darn valuable.And, the same applies to the apparently lesser talented and skilled Messrs. Ainsley and Sulzberger

  6. lkcape

    She sold King Arthur’s trophy office building.That should be worth something.

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