Will OC Register’s Publisher Make a Play for the Boston Globe?

Boston GlobeAccording to sources close to the situation and a story in media pundit Jim Romensko’s blog, the New York Times Company is shopping the Boston Globe and other New England media properties around.  The Globe has suffered significant staff cuts over the years and is a shell of the paper it was 15 years ago, which makes it an ideal target for OC Register publisher Aaron Kushner.  And it’s a newspaper that Kushner coveted back in 2010 when he formed 2100 Trust LLC, to go after The Boston Globe and later with MaineToday Media Inc., publisher of The Portland Press Herald.

From the news release on the NY Times announcement:

“Our plan to sell the New England Media Group demonstrates our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its journalism,” said Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company. “The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette are outstanding newspapers and they and their related digital properties are well-managed leaders in their markets with real opportunities for future development. We are very proud of our association with the Globe and the Telegram & Gazette, but given the differences between these businesses and The New York Times, we believe that a sale is in the best long-term interests of these properties and the employees who work for them as well as in the best interests of our shareholders.”

The principal properties that make up the New England Media Group are:

  • The Boston Globe
  • BostonGlobe.com
  • Boston.com
  • Worcester Telegram & Gazette
  • Telegram.com
  • GlobeDirect, the Globe’s direct mail marketing company

Also included in the sale is the Company’s 49 percent interest in Metro Boston.

Kushner’s first attempt at buying the Portland newspaper didn’t go so well.  The Huffington Post reported: “Tom Bell, president of The Portland Newspaper Guild, said Kushner presented the union with 50 demands, including a longer work week and increases in employee health care contributions.

“We got off to such a bad start that it was hard to recover,” said Bell, who is skeptical of that Kushner’s print bet will succeed.”

While Kushner is getting applause for his handling and expansion of the OC Register, I don’t think OC Weekly is getting ready to deep six it’s OC Register Death Watch column just yet.  Unless plans have changed, much of the Register’s online content is going behind some sort of paywall with online subscriptions starting sometime in March.  Will those used to reading the Register for free online start to pay for it?

We remain disappointed that Kushner’s arrival didn’t signal dramatic changes with the Register’s Opinion pages whcih still lack a regular local liberal/progressive columnist and a national libera/progressive columnist.  By all means, keep ignoring more than 500,000 registered Democrats in OC who more or less have given up on the paper.

But Kushner’s New England roots and track record with the Register should make his company a leading candidate to acquire the Boston Globe