John Henry Goes Silent on the Future of the Worcester Telegram
Friday, November 01, 2013
|John Henry, new owner of the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram|
What he did not write may be far more important to the staff and readers of Worcester's Telegram & Gazette.
Henry, who privately purchased both the Boston Globe and the Telegram, as well as some other media assets from the New York Times for a bargain basement price of $70 million, wrote passionately about the importance of the Boston Globe, "I invested in the Globe because I believe deeply in the future of this great community, and the Globe should play a vital role in determining that future. I invested in the Globe because it is one of the best and most important news organizations in the world."
The Globe letter triggered an email to the national media blogger, Jim Romenesko from an employee of the Telegram.
Letter to Romenesko
From A WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE EMPLOYEE: I would like to bring your attention to what John Henry left out of his op-ed yesterday: that he bought two newspapers.
Mr. Henry has not visited the Telegram & Gazette newsroom, which is about 45 miles from the Globe. He has not said anything about what he plans to do with the paper now that we are under his ownership. There are about 300 people here, and we would like some answers, or at least recognition.
The juxtaposition between Henry's public admiration for the Globe and his non-comment, non-visit to the Telegram raises significant questions about the future of the already depleted Telegram.
Henry's Passion for the Globe
Henry writes in his Op-ed:
I didn’t get involved out of impulse. I began analyzing the plight of major American newspapers back in 2009, during the throes of the recession, when the Globe’s parent company, the New York Times Company, considered shutting down the paper. As I studied the problems that beset the newspaper industry, I discovered a maddening irony: The Boston Globe, through the paper and its website, had more readers than at any time in its history. But journalism’s business model had become fundamentally flawed. Readers were flocking from the papers to the Internet, consuming expensive journalism for free. On the advertising front, print dollars were giving way to digital dimes. I decided that the challenges were too difficult, so I moved on.
Truth is, I prefer to think that I have joined the Globe, not purchased it, because great institutions, public and private, have stewards, not owners. Stewardship carries obligations and responsibilities to citizens first and foremost — not to shareholders.
Back In Worcester
The new owner has not voiced a single substantive word about the Telegram, its importance to the community, its relevance - or its future. For some media experts, this points to further consolidation of the Telegram into the Globe. Even today, an increasing number of lead articles in the Telegram derive from Associated Press wire stories or from the Boston Globe. Another tip that the goal may be to merge the Telegram into the Globe is a recent lead article in the Globe outlining Worcester's somewhat inconsistent economic development strategy.
Henry's silence on the Telegram drew a strong critique from Boston Business Journal's George Donnelly. The Executive Editor wrote,"Of course, not even a nod to Worcester and its Telegram & Gazette. That silence speaks volumes to the 800,000 people in Worcester County."
Value of the Telegram
The Times bought the Telegram & Gazette for $295 million in 1999 -- and the recent law suit raises the question if the Telegram now has zero value. As GoLocalWorcester previously reported, "Fitchburg attorney James Galliher, who represents the independent carriers, reportedly told Judge Frison this Monday that the "creative accounting" used by the Times to determine the sale price could cause the T&G to be "basically worthless." He also reportedly called the Globe a "distressed property" that is being sold well below its real value."
April 6, 2012If the Worcester Telegram & Gazette was offering alternatives for the 64 employees it is laying off, Luis Lopez didn’t get the memo.“I knew it was coming, but it’s hard,” the 37-year-old father of two girls said of being laid off Monday from the job he held for six years at the T&G’s Millbury printing plant. “When I came here, they promised me they would not lay me off. Now look at me.”
June 22, 2012
The New York Times Company has sold a contaminated Worcester Telegram and Gazette building to a local development agency, leaving taxpayers on the hook for potentially up to $1.1 million in cleanup costs.
Before the sale, Telegram and Gazette publisher Bruce Gaultney publicly promised that the building was “not a brownfield.”
June 27, 2012The New York Times Company announced that they have agreed to pay for cleanup costs associated with contamination left at the former location of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette at 18-20 Franklin Street.The announcement comes just days after a GoLocalWorcester investigative report that unveiled that the property was a brownsfield site, despite claims by the publisher that it was not. The non-profit Worcester Business Development Corporation, which bought the property, is receiving government funds to pay for the cleanup of the former newspaper headquarters.
July 2, 2012Two local unions are concerned about the health hazards at the former Telegram & Gazette building, after the NY Times Company sold the property to a local nonprofit and the building was declared a brownfield site.
July 10, 2012The NY Times Company is only committed to paying 10% of costs to cleanup the hazardous materials at the T&G building, leaving taxpayers footing most of the $1.1 million bill to clean up asbestos, lead, and other contaminants.
July 11, 2013Local taxpayers are demanding that the NY Times Company takes responsibility and pays for the T&G cleanup.Thus far, the corporation has only offered to pay for 10% of the estimated $1.1 million cleanup costs to rid the building of asbestos, lead, and other hazardous contaminants.
July 13, 2012Massachusetts legislators, candidates, and councilors are calling for the NY Times to contribute more money for the cleanup of the T&G building contamination. Across the board and across the aisle, they say there’s a need for more corporate responsibility and taxpayers should not be stuck with the bill when a large company is involved.
July 24, 2012The Boston Globe and Worcester T&G are facing layoffs and buyouts, affecting a total of about fifty employees between the two markets. Both newspapers are owned by the same media group which is a subsidiary of the New York Times Company.
February 7, 2013Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray said that the brownfield site cleanup at the former home of the Worcester Telegram may still take some funding from the former owner, the NY Times Co. The building was sold by the news company after an estimated $1.1 million in cleanup costs to remove asbestos, lead, and other contaminants.
February 20, 2013The New York Times Company announced on Wednesday that the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Boston Globe and their related websites are up for sale.The company has retained Evercore Partners to advise and manage the sales process of the two newspapers, along with the other related properties contained within the New York Times Co.'s New England Media Group.
August 3, 2013The New York Times Company has dumped the Boston Globe, Worcester Telegram and some other holdings for less than 6% of what they had paid for the combined assets over the past three decades. John Henry's sports and media group will pay approximately $70 million.
August 5, 2013On Saturday morning, August 3, at 3 A.M., the New York Times Company confirmed the sale of the Boston Globe, Worcester Telegram, and other New England assets to John Henry in an all-cash, $70 million deal.Go Local reached out to top experts on media to get their perspective on the transaction, and insights as to what this means for the future of the paper, as well as industry as a whole. The Boston Globe, once the biggest force in media, has been in decline over the past decade, and now faces an uncertain future.
August 18, 2013The tectonic shifts changing the global media landscape are rolling through Southeastern New England, right on schedule.The media empire of the Providence Journal’s parent company, Dallas-based A.H. Belo, has been coming apart for years, and now, with the sale last week of its Riverside, California, operation, the Press-Enterprise, down to just two main properties. The hope here is that the Projo will, too, be sold before long and end the chronic and debilitating cycle of downsizing for the newsroom and bonuses for the executive suite that has marked the Belo regime.
October 23, 2013For John Henry, the St. Louis Cardinals may pale in comparison to the challenges he faces with the Telegram & Gazette and the Boston Globe. In Worcester, he’s now dealing with a temporary restraining order that blocks his purchase of the two papers. In Boston, the Globe’s headquarters sit on land that is highly contaminated.
October 24, 2013Judge Shannon Frison of Worcester Superior Court has lifted an injunction blocking the sale of the Boston Globe, and affiliated Worcester Times & Gazette, to Red Sox owner John Henry. On Thursday afternoon, the judge ruled removed the order which was requested as part of a lawsuit filed by former Telegram & Gazette adult carriers.