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

Tag: Lowell Sun

Local buyers exit Worcester Telegram bidding

Harry Whitin

Harry Whitin

This article was published previously at WGBH News.

This week’s Boston Globe-related media news continues, as the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester reports that the only potential local buyers for the paper have withdrawn.

Retired T&G editor Harry Whitin and Polar Beverages chief executive Ralph Crowley had been mentioned as possible buyers since 2009, when the New York Times Co. first put the Globe and its related properties (including the T&G) up for sale. John Henry, who bought the Globe late last year, told the T&G staff in November that he hoped to sell the paper to someone local, and that he might hang onto it if he couldn’t find the right buyer. (Henry also said he would keep the T&G’s Millbury printing plant — a facility that is likely to be used to print the Globe and handle its contract work, including the Boston Herald, after Henry sells the Globe’s current headquarters on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. He recently confirmed that move in an interview with Boston magazine.)

Now, though, Whitin and Crowley are out, with Whitin telling the T&G’s Shaun Sutner: “For all intents and purposes, we have withdrawn from the process.”

Today’s T&G story also quotes Tim Murray, CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and the former lieutenant governor, as saying that Henry should sell the paper at a discount if that means transferring it to local owners, just as the Times Co. sold the Globe to Henry out of a sense that he would prove to be a good steward. Here’s Murray:

The fact of the matter is The New York Times gave a discount to a local buyer for The Boston Globe because they had a buyer who professed to be committed to the region, Greater Boston and the journalistic mission that newspapers play. And therefore it is not unreasonable for Mr. Henry to extend that same courtesy to the residents of Worcester in contemplating a sale.

Sutner quotes me regarding two national chains — GateHouse Media, which owns about 100 papers in Eastern Massachusetts, and Digital First Media, which owns several papers not far from Worcester, including The Sun of Lowell and the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg.

Of the two, I think Digital First would be the more interesting choice. Headed by the bombastic John Paton (profiled in 2011 by David Carr of The New York Times), his company — which includes papers such as The Denver Post and the New Haven Register — has been trying to innovate its way out of the financial morass in which the newspaper business finds itself.

Digital First employs some of the most respected thinkers in digital journalism, including editor-in-chief Jim Brady and digital transformation editor Steve Buttry. Here is a press release on Digital First’s most recent initiative, Project Unbolt, which seeks to remove the “bolts” that still keep local journalism attached to the industrial processes that defined pre-Internet newspapers. Digital First also has a content partnership with GlobalPost, the pioneering online international news service founded five years ago by Boston media entrepreneur Phil Balboni. (I wrote about some of Paton’s early moves in New Haven in my book “The Wired City.”)

The Telegram & Gazette is a major media presence in Central Massachusetts. I still hope it ends up in local hands — or that Henry decides to keep it. But if it’s going to be sold to a national chain, the staff and the community could do worse than to be served by a company that is trying to revive the business of local news.

Three tough losses in Boston politics and media

220px-Cellucci_paul

Paul Cellucci

The Boston political and media worlds have suffered three tough losses recently. The most prominent was former governor Paul Cellucci, who died on Saturday after a courageous battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Cellucci was a dedicated public servant and a class act. The first time I met him was in 1988, when he and Dick Kraus — both of them were state senators — debated as stand-ins for George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis at the Arlington cable studios.

I got to know Cellucci better when I was working on a profile of him for The Boston Phoenix in 1997. The then-lieutenant governor’s career was at a low ebb — The Boston Globe had revealed that he’d run up $750,000 in personal debt, and state Treasurer Joe Malone was thought by many observers to be the frontrunner for the 1998 Republican nomination for governor.

But Cellucci came across as polite, philosophical, even funny, responding “Are you talkin’ to me?” when someone told him he resembed Robert De Niro.

“This is a very cyclical business,” Cellucci told me at the time. “You’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to catch some breaks. And some years you catch the breaks, some years you don’t.”

He steady demeanor served him well both in his political career and in his illness. The following year Cellucci was elected governor; he later served as ambassador to Canada. Since announcing in 2011 that he had ALS, he had been a visible and effective advocate for research into the disease. He will be missed.

• Richard Gaines was a legendary longtime editor of the Phoenix. Yet even though I worked there for nearly 15 years, our paths never crossed. (We met once at a party.) Today many former Phoenicians and others who knew him are mourning his death at the age of 69.

Gaines led a “tumultuous life,” to borrow a description from a friend of mine who worked with him. He was widely praised for his intelligence and his skill as a reporter and editor. In the latter part of his career he worked for the Gloucester Times, where he became a respected expert on that city’s troubled fishing industry.

I got to know Gaines’ wife, Nancy Gaines, when she worked at the Phoenix in the late 1990s. My thoughts go out to her at this sad and difficult time.

• Christopher Cox was someone whose byline I remember seeing in the Boston Herald, but I had no idea about how many lives he had touched until he died recently, and his friends began paying tribute to him on Facebook.

I also had no idea what an accomplished journalist he was until I read this tribute by David Perry in The Sun of Lowell, where Cox had also worked. A remarkable life and career. Read it.

Photo via Wikipedia.

Lowell Sun’s owner seeks bankruptcy protection

The Wall Street Journal has the story. (Via Romenesko.)

Media round-up: Losing our religion

A few local media tidbits for your perusal:

• The Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson, who may be the country’s best religion reporter working at a mainstream news organization, is taking a new position at the paper. According to the Boston Phoenix’s Adam Reilly, Paulson has been named city editor, reporting to new metro editor Jen Peter. I share Reilly’s hope that this doesn’t mean the Globe has reduced its commitment to serious coverage of religion.

• Local political junkies rejoice: Peter Lucas is back on the beat. A longtime reporter for the Phoenix and the Boston Herald, Lucas disappeared into the state bureaucracy for several decades. He has now re-emerged, and will write a twice-weekly column for the Lowell Sun, according to Jon Keller. I once had the privilege of hearing Lucas’ hilarious retelling of the “White Will Run” incident Keller describes that nearly brought a premature end to Lucas’ reporting career. I look forward to reading his Sun column.

• Sharp-eyed Universal Hubster Adam Gaffin flags a tidbit from Boston Radio Watch hinting that Greater Boston may be getting yet another talk station — WXKS (AM 1430), owned by Clear Channel. Given its weak signal, it presumably would not pose much of a threat to WRKO (AM 680), WTKK (96.9 FM) or WWZN (AM 1510) — the last a liberal station that itself is no great shakes when it comes to having a listenable signal.

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