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

Pin the tail on the potential owner

Who will buy the Boston Globe? Silly season may have already arrived. The Globe today attempts to knock down the Boston Herald’s claim yesterday that an investment group with ties to Thomas O’Neill III is interested, while at the same time identifying three other potential buyers.

The Herald, meanwhile, reports that Red Sox principal owner John Henry has told his Twitter followers he’s not interested; his name has been floating around for a while. (Sorry, but I don’t know Henry’s Twitter address.) Nothing new from Jack Welch, who has restricted his tweeting to sports the last couple of days.

Let me return to the Globe’s claim that the Herald got it wrong with respect to Intercontinental Real Estate Corp., whose board of advisers includes Tom O’Neill and former Bank of Boston head Ira Stepanian. The Globe’s Keith O’Brien and Beth Healy, with help from Casey Ross, write:

[A] person connected to the Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. refuted a report that the real estate investment and management firm is interested in buying the Globe. This person, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter, said the report in the Boston Herald was not accurate.

Now, let’s go back to the Herald story, written by Christine McConville with assists from Jay Fitzgerald and Jessica Heslam. Here’s the key graf:

“Intercontinental is interested in any good investment that offers superior returns for our investors, as well as opportunities for job preservation, and even job growth, for our union investors,” said a top executive for Boston-based Intercontinental, which manages real estate and some $2.5 billion in investment funds, including union pensions. “The Globe fits our profile.”

Neither the Herald nor the Globe offers us an on-the-record source from Intercontinental, so it’s hard to know what to make of all this. But the specificity of the Herald quote suggests that there’s at least something to it. Most likely the Herald and the Globe stories are both accurate, but only one of them is true.

The possible buyers identified by the Globe — former Globe executive Stephen Taylor, a member of the paper’s former ruling family, as well as Boston advertising executive Jack Connors and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca — are all familiar names. It’s hard to know how serious any of them are. My guess is that when a buyer is announced, we’ll all be shocked. This is good coffee-machine conversation, but probably no one outside of New York Times Co. management really knows what’s going on.

In other Globe-related news, editorial-page editor Renée Loth is retiring to write a freelance column for the paper. She’ll be replaced by Washington bureau chief Peter Canellos, who’ll also oversee the Sunday Ideas section. The current Ideas editor, Gareth Cook, will remain in that post.

Bringing Canellos home in any capacity is a smart move. His specific job title is less important than getting him back inside the building, where he will no doubt be a key player in any and all reinvention initiatives. He also has a good relationship with Cook, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter.

Both Canellos and Cook are Boston Phoenix alumni, though Canellos had moved on before my arrival there. Cook and I worked together in the mid-’90s.

Finally, former Globe media consultant Lou Phelps has posted a commentary at Cape Cod Today in which she takes the Boston Newspaper Guild to task for being “unwilling to publicly acknowledge the core issues of the business model of The Boston Globe, and the changing newspaper industry that The New York Times company must face.”

Phelps’ main argument is that technology should allow a newsroom to operate with many fewer journalists than was the case before cell phones and the Internet.

Her take is interesting, but she should have acknowledged that the Globe has already done a lot of cutting — from 550 full-time newsroom positions in 2000 to about 330 today. I hope she’ll check in and let us know how much lower she thinks the Globe can go.

And wow — Phelps is easy on the Guild compared to Cape Cod Today editor Walter Brooks. Duck!

Photo (cc) by cmiper and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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15 Comments

  1. mike_b1

    Hey Dan,Do you think the Globe is "in play?"http://medianation.blogspot.com/2006/10/ellis-on-welch.htmlhehehe

  2. Dan Kennedy

    It was then and it is now.

  3. Steve

    The Taylors sold the Globe 16 years ago, and now Stephen can probably get it back for 10% of what they got for it.Sounds like a plan! Make it happen!

  4. Tim Allik

    Steve Taylor is a smart guy and knows the web well. Go Steve! mike_b1, really, what's up with the finger? Is this an example of anti-social media?

  5. mike_b1

    Nope, just O-Fish's IQ.

  6. lkcape

    Gee, Mr. _b1, you're giving sophomores a bad name.

  7. mike_b1

    Awww, do you feel left out lkcape? I could show yours, too. I just have to put up one more finger.

  8. matteomht

    >>This is good coffee-machine conversation, but probably no one outside of New York Times Co. management really knows what's going on.<<Seems to me that NYT management has had no idea what's going on for years…

  9. O-FISH-L

    mike_b1, changing your picture to reflect my IQ ranking on this blog? You're far too kind. Coming from a guy who once claimed that every American could soon reap $3,000,000 each from Obama's stimulus package, I'll have to keep your comments about IQ in proper context though.

  10. mike_b1

    O-Fish, when did they they start letting you out of your cell during the day?

  11. lkcape

    Poor Mikey….. doesn't like it when his boorish demeanor is the issue.But then again, it is HIS demeanor.

  12. Claire

    http://twitter.com/John_W_HenryThis might be John Henry's twitter name if anyone wants to follow…

  13. Peter Porcupine

    DK – WHOAH! Just read Walter's disclaimer about his Guild membership – "All the protections which labor unions (the Newspaper Guild is a such) fought for at the beginning of the 20th century are now enshrined in federal laws. Unions are as obsolete as lazy writers. – Walter Brooks, Editor, Cape Cod TODAY."I MUST have the National Right To Work Society get in touch, if an old Wobblie like Walter feels that way!

  14. mike_b1

    lckape, good to see you! ready to hire that "the man on the street" for your child molestation defense?

  15. lkcape

    My…. you are deranged.Someone steal your orange juice at lunch?They throw you out of the locker room?

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