New York Times media reporter Richard Pérez-Peña has responded to my post of earlier today:
I enjoy your work, and obviously I’m biased, but I thought your critique of my piece was a little odd and beside the point. The point of citing those examples was that there was a lack of communication on even the basics. I think you agree with that.
I really don’t understand why you bring up the dollar figures, since I can’t quite figure out what (if anything) you’re claiming is the “questionable assertion.” You wrote, “there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that management has, in fact, been telling Globe employees that the paper lost $50 million last year,” as if I had cast doubt on that. I hadn’t. As far as I know, no one disputes that this is the number the company has cited. But it wasn’t cited to “Globe employees.” It was to union leaders, in private meetings, and maybe to a Globe reporter (I don’t know), but not to employees at large or to the public.
You note that the company publicly owned up to the $85 million figure for this year. But did you know that for three weeks, the company would not acknowledge that figure, either, even after it had been reported everywhere? An executive said it at the April 23 shareholders’ meeting (a slip, apparently), which I believe triggered the required SEC filing.
The point wasn’t whether these were the numbers being used; everyone knew that they were, and I never wrote anything to the contrary. The point was that the company wouldn’t state them publicly.
I confess that I wasn’t aware of Mathis’ June 4 e-mail to the Phoenix, but it doesn’t undermine the point. The e-mail does not explicitly acknowledge that the company had threatened the unions with closure of The Globe if they did not make serious concessions. As far as I know, there hasn’t been such an acknowledgment. I know first-hand that when asked to confirm it, the company declined. The e-mail says “closure is a very real path for the company to take” — a hell of a statement, I admit — but without explaining how or why that path might be taken. Also, that shut-down threat was first made in early April; the e-mail came two months later.
My comment: I stand by what I wrote. But, yes, I absolutely agree with Pérez-Peña’s assertion that there has been “a lack of communication on even the basics.”