Well, this is sad news, but not exactly shocking. Sue O’Connell and Jeff Coakley are putting Bay Windows and the South End News up for sale after 18 years of ownership. Sue and Jeff were both colleagues of mine at The Boston Phoenix. They’ve had a great run, and of course Sue has gone on to considerable success as a host at NBC 10 and NECN as well as at GBH News. Here’s the announcement.
BAY WINDOWS AND SOUTH END NEWS ARE UP FOR SALE!
What a time to be alive.
It doesn’t matter if you read this phrase as a meme or think we’re quoting Drake, this really is an amazing time to be alive.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing will become clear, if it hasn’t already: we’re living in a new world. This means new ways of doing business and accessing health care and education. Innovations in art, cultural, and culinary spaces. Wholesale reimaginings of community life and work space.
Nothing will ever return to “normal.” Nor would we want it to. Over the past year, movements for social justice based on race have accelerated. Our schools, businesses, nonprofit institutions, government agencies, elected officials, and community-based organizations are incorporating demands for change. In many cases, they are leading it.
In these times of change, we invite one more. After publishing Bay Windows and South End News for 18 years, we are putting both publications up for sale.
The business of local news has changed in the two decades we’ve owned both papers. But the news and its importance to the community has not. That is why we are inviting community leaders, business owners, nonprofits, educational institutions and others to consider purchasing Bay Windows and South End News, either separately or together. We are committed to thinking creatively and working with potential buyers to provide an equitable path to ownership.
Models to consider including nonprofit conversion, government support, a public and/or digital media merger, and community ownership.
When we purchased Bay Windows and South End News in 2003, we’d like to tell you that we did it out of a high-minded commitment to the vital role that community newspapers play in our communities. But that would not be true.
We bought these papers because we thought it would be fun.
Was it? Absolutely.
Almost immediately after purchasing the papers, Bay Windows became the primary source of news and information related to the political, legal, and public opinion battles being waged to bring marriage equality to Massachusetts. This role was similar to the one the paper had played in its early years as a source of information about AIDS that could not be found anywhere else. Since its founding, the paper has been home to information about political, arts, entertainment, and cultural news relevant to the LGBTQ community.
South End News has played the same role in the life of the South End, a neighborhood that has shaped the city of Boston’s nonprofit sector, biomedical research, culinary scene, and arts and cultural offerings. It has also been home to groups and individuals who have played influential roles in Puerto Rican, Black, and LGBTQ activism in the city of Boston.
Over the past two decades, we have met business owners, nonprofit leaders, artists, activists, chefs, politicians, city employees and community members. It has been the experience of a lifetime.
Now it is someone else’s turn.
We can promise you three things: It will take a lot of work to make it work. You will exercise great influence in the South End and the state’s LGBTQ community. And you will have fun.