I ducked into a Starbucks in downtown New Haven so I could write this. So, for now, just a few preliminary thoughts about the New York Times Co.’s announcement that it has decided against selling the Boston Globe.
Like most observers, I thought the happy talk last month from Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and president Janet Robinson was aimed mainly at driving up the price. So even though I had been hearing since last week that things were not going well with the two interested buyers (Platinum Equity and a group led by former Globe executive Stephen Taylor), it still struck me as plausible that the Times Co. would sell — at any price. In hindsight, it’s now clear there was a price below which Sulzberger and company were not willing to go.
I do think the Times Co. damaged its credibility in Boston this year by being so uncommunicative about its battle with the Globe’s unions (especially the Boston Newspaper Guild) and about the would-be sale. The company’s got some work to do on the community-relations front.
But there were certainly worse possible outcomes than this. Platinum Equity, by all accounts, would have relentlessly focused on the bottom line. I was rooting for a Taylor comeback, but if that group was as under-capitalized as I was hearing, then you can be sure that more cuts would have been the first order of business.
Besides, people who buy newspapers tend to want to bring in their own editor. I think Marty Baron has done a terrific job under incredibly difficult circumstances this year, and if this means he stays, then that’s a good thing.
Overall, today’s announcement is not bad news. Which is not quite the same as good news, but close enough.