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!