There might be some buyers interested in saving the Boston Globe, but how much will they have to shell out? David Carr of The New York Times, who asked industry experts to weigh in on the issue, raises an interesting point: the New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, may have to pay someone to take the Boston paper off its hands.
The Times Co. paid $1.1 billion for the Globe in 1993, but now the paper is set to lose about $85 million this year. Even if it can cut its losses through agreements with unions and additional cuts, what can the Times Co. reasonably expect to get for its troubled asset?
The range of the prices predicted by Carr’s experts is surprising — from $250 million to $1 to “we pay you to take this off our hands.”
Carr’s conclusion: “No consensus, but most of the experts who judge media properties for a living seem to be saying that the only way The New York Times Company can unlock any value from The Boston Globe is to get the newspaper’s losses off its books. Next time you’re in line at Starbucks and buying a $2 cup of coffee, you might want to consider that you could have bought one of America’s most storied newspaper franchises for less.”
Jeff Jarvis has another take: “The best thing The Times Company could do is push The Globe into bankruptcy, shut down its production and distribution structure, reduce editorial and sales to essential and open-minded employees, go online-only, and come out as a much smaller but profitable company that is no longer a drain on and threat to The New York Times.”
Reduce editorial and go online only? That seems to be the approach that many metro papers are taking, but it doesn’t seem to be the solution. It’s more like a death sentence for journalism.