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

Why John Henry’s bid for the Globe makes sense

John Henry

John Henry

Maybe it’s because this has dragged on for such a long time, but Beth Healy’s report that Red Sox principal owner John Henry has decided to make a solo bid to buy the paper and its associated properties carries with it the ring of inevitability.

He’s got the money, which has always been the big question about local favorites Steve and Ben Taylor. If they had the cash, the New York Times Co. would have sold it to them in 2009.

Henry doesn’t have any obvious flaws, like San Diego businessman “Papa Doug” Manchester. He’s even restructured his bid — possibly at the request of the Times Co.?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Henry introduced as the next owner of the Globe sooner rather than later — possibly to be followed by an announcement that Dan Shaughnessy has accepted a job at ESPN.

Photo via Wikipedia.

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  1. BP Myers

    Funny, with all the talk about the Tampa Bay Rays attendance problems, I often think, “What do they expect? Their OWNER doesn’t even come to their games.” The Rays do often get to catch up with him when they make visits to New York, where he lives, and where his young sons have Mets posters on their walls (true story).

    I contrast that with Mr. Henry, who has done nothing but set down roots in Boston since first moving to town, not to mention attending every . . . single . . . game. Boston is lucky to have him.

  2. Andy Koppel

    This comment only addresses Mr. Henry’s credentials as the owner of the Red Sox. Neither Dan’s post nor the comment addresses the most compelling issue, that of potential conflict of interest. The Globe prides itself on its sports section, and the Red Sox are certainly the most intensely covered team in the area.

    How would a Henry-owned paper avoid charges of censorship, valid or not? Would/could there be a Bob Hohler-type expose in the future?

    I concede that the Globe is already staffed by any number of shameless housemen (e.g., Cafardo, Finn, et al), but at least the paper can;’t be accused of kowtowing to management. And, of course, Mr. Henry would then presumably be under pressure from other local teams’ management.

    Since perception is reality, as is often said, I don;t see how a Henry-owned Globe would escape such charges, something that Dan’s joke about Shaughnessy illustrates, albeit facetiously.

  3. Andre Mayer

    Henry’s credentials as owner of the Red Sox legitimately inform speculation on how he’d do as owner of the Globe. Conflict of interest, sure – but covering the Sox is not the main thing the Globe does, and in fact it may be the area in which it has the most competition. There have been many cases of media-sports cross-ownership (including Globe-Sox), cases where publishers have run for or held public office, etc., and journalism has survived (if not exactly unscathed).

    If Henry would be a good owner for the Globe, I won’t quibble. Frankly, I’m more concerned about Liverpool.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Andre: Agreed. I can think of worse conflicts of interest. Check out Papa Doug Manchester’s record in San Diego.

  4. Mike Benedict

    Tribune Co. owned the Cubs for years, as did Turner the Braves. The thing about owning the media and the team is that is makes it way cheaper to produce content. And if this is what it takes to get The CHB out of Boston, well, I’ll contribute to the cause.

  5. Aaron Read

    I have said before, and I’ll say again, that I still think the best possible owner for the Boston Globe would be Boston University’s College of Communication. I haven’t checked lately, but their journalism program is supposed to be top-notch and this would be an ideal blend of revenue and mission.

    Think about it:
    + BU gets a profitable venture (most major newspapers ARE profitable, but they’re “losing money” because of massive debt loads they carry).
    + BU also gets a fantastic training ground for its students (I’m not saying the students displace any professionals, but I am saying that the students can and should be highly involved in making up for massive cuts over the last decade).
    + That “training” mission also means BU neither needs nor wants to be motivated solely by profit. So if the paper has a down year, so what? As long as it’s working for their student body (and thus creating happy alums who donate money) that’s all that matters.
    + Globe employees get an employer who won’t slash the payroll the moment the CEO’s dividend looks like it might drop below seven figures that year.
    + The paper gets a stable relationship that lets it stop worrying so much about business and focus more on reporting.
    + Not sure how/if it would work, but BU already has a major news organization in WBUR. Imagine what they could accomplish with having both WBUR and the Globe working together? It’s not that simple, I’m well aware, but the potential is remarkable.

    Yes there’s potential for conflicts of interest whenever the Globe needs to cover a BU-related issue. But WBUR already handles that pretty well right now.

    FWIW, other than the WBUR aspect, I could see this sort of concept working at NEU as well. Quite possibly Harvard or even BC (although being that close to the Catholic Church in this town would make me a tad leery; the Church has never been real good at managing conflicts of interest).

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: Change “BU” to “Northeastern” and I would agree.

      • Aaron Read

        Well, we each have our biases here. 🙂

        BU’s a behemoth that could likely afford the purchase. I literally have no idea one way or the other with NEU, though. And NEU doesn’t have WBUR, either. I’m harping on that in part because of the potential synergies, but more because it means BU has a lot of experience dealing with a media outlet that it owns, reporting on itself. That’s not a skill that is easily acquired, and most colleges kinda suck at it. I have no idea if NEU is good or bad, but I know BU is pretty good.

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