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August 03, 2013

John Henry Buys the Boston Globe

John Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, has entered into an agreement to buy the Boston Globe from the New York Times.  The sale price is $70 million.  The Times bought The Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion.  The Times reports:

The New York Times Company, in its latest move to shed assets and focus more on its core brand, has agreed to sell The Boston Globe and its other New England media properties to John W. Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox.

The sale, for $70 million, would return the paper to local ownership after two decades in which it struggled to stem the decline in circulation and revenue. The price would represent a staggering drop in value for The Globe, which The Times bought in 1993 for $1.1 billion, the highest price paid for an American newspaper.

$70 million.  That's less than the Red Sox paid for center fielder Carl Crawford.  

The Globe Reports:

In 2009, the Times Co. tried to sell the Globe, but it took the paper off the market because it did not fetch the price it was seeking. It received wage concessions from the newspapers’ union members and management afterthreatening to shutter the paper because the company was losing money.

The Globe’s financial health is stronger now, but the company is still working to turn around declining advertising revenue, a problem that persists industrywide.

Henry is known for his keen grasp of numbers and a disciplined approach to statistics and analysis that he brought to commodities futures and to the Red Sox. His models for making smart bets on the market, he told the Globe in 2004, focused on “what is, not what should be.”

After many years of investment success, the funds managed by John W. Henry & Co. began to falter after the financial crisis. Henry shut down the hedge fund firm last year, although it continues to manage his personal money.

When asked last year about whether his financial resources were diminished in such a way that it could affect his Sox ownership, Henry said, “I have no interest in reducing that. If anything, I expect it to increase over time.”

While Henry has shown himself to be a long-term investor, how he plans to run the Globe is still largely unknown.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet that he'll turn it around.  After all, he did bring a World Series win back home to Boston after the 86 year Curse of the Bambino.  But how will he revive the fortunes of the Globe?  Maybe the sale of the Nashua Telegraph earlier this year will provide some insight.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ogden group to buy Telegraph

By Telegraph Staff

HUDSON – An agreement has been reached for The Ogden Newspapers Inc., a family-owned company with 40 daily newspapers in 12 states, to become the new owner of The Telegraph, Publisher Terrence L. Williams announced Monday.

Independent Publications Inc., which has owned The Telegraph since 1977, announced in late December that it would sell the daily newspaper and its associated weeklies and websites.

Williams introduced Robert M. Nutting, president and chief executive officer of Ogden Newspapers, to Telegraph employees Monday afternoon.

A little more than a year earlier I had cancelled my subscription to the Telegraph.  I was incensed over Telegraph coverage which sought to discredit Project Veritas for demonstrating the ease with which James O'Keefe was able to walk into New Hampshire polling places and improperly obtain ballots.

In 2009, a Project Veritas worker posed as a prostitute and O’Keefe pretended to be her boyfriend to obtain damaging statements from the advocacy group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

Congress froze federal funding for ACORN after O’Keefe’s videos appeared to show workers offering advice on how to get away with tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution. Afterward, it was determined the videos were heavily edited and conversations were changed.

Project Veritas also recorded an NPR executive in controversial conversations that touched on Islam and Christianity. The organization faced the same charge that the video was selective.

I sent the following letter to the editor with my cancellation:

The Telegraph deliberately mislead in its story on the Project Veritas individuals who were able to obtain presidential primary ballots by posing as registered New Hampshire voters. Project Veritas staged and recorded a demonstration of the frightening ease with which voting can be corrupted, even here in “live free or die” New Hampshire. The Telegraph attempted to discredit Project Veritas by claiming that earlier stings recorded by Project Veritas against ACORN "were heavily edited and conversations were changed," implying that the charges against ACORN were untrue. Congress and the US Census disagreed and ACORN was forced to disband.

To the issue of voter fraud, in the bad old days the Democratic party of the old south disqualified African Americans from voting through unfair poll taxes and literacy tests. Today's preferred method for disenfranchising voters is by manufacturing votes, as was recently seen in Troy, New York where certain Democratic party officials plead guilty to filling out absentee ballots on behalf of voters who had no idea that their votes were being cast. Manufactured votes are, of course, intended to cancel out legitimate opposition votes.

Sadly, by opposing passage of any law that would require voters to provide proof that they are who they say they are, the Telegraph sides with those who hope to retain fraud as a viable election tactic. This betrayal by the Telegraph is the reason I have canceled my subscription.

I got a call from the editorial page editor a few days later.  Nick Pappas wanted to ask why I would so abruptly cancel after more than 10 years, and would I reconsider?  I told him I would not.  But I've reconsidered now, now that the Telegraph is under new management.  

As it happens, a couple of weeks ago I got another call from the new Telegraph asking if I would take two free Sunday papers as a trial.  The caller told me that I was not the only one who objected to the Telegraph's leftward slant and that he was calling other disenchanted former subscribers to tell everybody how things had changed.  

I agreed to the trial, but I was disappointed to find the first Sunday paper had gotten rained on and was ruined, and the second one didn't include an editorial section.  So I went the Telegraph website to see if the editorial page had really changed any.  A look at the National Columnists page said yes, it had.  Columnists representing the center and left were Jules Witcover, Robert Reich, Mark Shields, and Froma Harrop.  Out weighing them on the right were Charles Krauthammer, Mona Charen, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Barone, Brent Bozell, Andrew Napolitano, Patrick Buchanan, Scott Rasmussen, and Thomas Sowell.  On the other hand the Telegraph follows the Tweets of uber-leftist Paul Krugman.  Not a good sign.

But aside from that it appears that under the Ogden Group the Telegraph has taken a turn towards the right, a turn which puts it more closely in tune with the American public which is largely conservative.  It's much too soon to tell whether or not this will pay off financially for the Telegraph.  (I don't know that it will get one more subscriber.)  Nor do we know if the Boston Globe will also ease away from the political left under the ownership of John Henry.  It's what I'd do, but that's neither here nor there.  

But on the bigger story, do we detect a movement away from the radical left by elements of the mainstream press.  The fortunes of the Telegraph and the Globe may be telling us, yes.  We can hope so anyway.

Belated update:  Peter Ingemi has more on the sale of the Globe.

Red Mass Group expands on why John Henry of the Boston Red Sox is the perfect buyer for the paper:

John Henry on the other hand is a long time Democratic donor and activist. According to his donation records Henry has donated over $1.1M to Democrats and special interest groups, while $1000 went to a lone Republican.

$1,000 Republican
$1,003,250 Democrat
$101,500 special interest
total: $1,105,750

Seemingly the New York Times Corporation may have not fulfilled it’s fiduciary responsibility to get the most money for an asset it was selling. Furthermore, it seems to be based on the politics of the bidders.

Oh well.  It looks like balanced viewpoint and news coverage out of the Globe are too much to hope for.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 02:33 PM | Permalink

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Comments

When Foster's sold the Laconia Citizen, I had hoped I would see a shift to the center under the new owners. I was bitterly disappointed to see that if anything else it shifted more to the Left. It has also seen its readership decline even while the 'free' Laconia Daily Sun, a moderate newspaper, has seen its readership steadily increase. You would think the left-leaning press would learn a lesson from this...but they won't.

Posted by: DCE | Aug 3, 2013 9:43:37 PM

There may still be some hope. Outwardly, Ogden Newspapers seems not to have leftward tilt, although we may find later that it in reality it does. Apparently we can't say the same thing about Eagle Publishing, the company that bought the Laconia Citizen.

Posted by: Tom Bowler | Aug 5, 2013 11:12:22 AM