There’s an ugly symmetry to the news that the New York Times Co. is soliciting bids for the Boston Globe.
Having paid $1.1 billion for the Globe in 1993, half the market capitalization of the entire Times Co., the Sulzberger family may now find there is virtually no interest in what once once its second-most-prized asset after the Times itself.
After the Boston Newspaper Guild narrowly rejected a proposal to cut salaries by about 10 percent and eliminate about 190 lifetime job guarantees, the Times Co., as expected, imposed a 23 percent pay cut. And the Guild, as expected, has appealed to the National Labor Relations Board.
What’s unclear today is the status of the lifetime job guarantees, widely thought to be a major stumbling block to any effort to sell the paper. Today’s Globe story, by Keith O’Brien, isn’t quite as explicit as I’d like it to be, but the gist seems to be that the guarantees remain in effect at the Guild — at least for the time being — and the paper’s other unions have given them up.
In the Boston Herald, Jay Fitzgerald and O’Ryan Johnson interview Poynter Institute business analyst Rick Edmonds, who wrote an excellent post the other day suggesting that the Globe was closer to break-even than is generally assumed.
Edmonds tells the Herald that the lifetime guarantees and the ongoing labor crisis remain major stumbling blocks to a sale: “Having these different things going on makes it considerably harder, if not impossible, to sell this newspaper.”