Boston Herald Jessica Heslam column [Boston Herald]
(Boston Herald (MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 23--Some loose ends and things to watch as the bids start trickling in for the Boston Globe. There's plenty to keep an eye on -- from the serious to the downright ridiculous.
-- We've seen a wide range of estimates of the Globe's worth, from $63 million to $180 million. That's like saying your house is worth somewhere between $600,000 and $1.8 million -- there's a lot of wiggle room.
The best guess we've heard is roughly $100 million for the Globe (and maybe $30 million for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette). For the New York Times Co., that's a far cry from the $1.1 billion it paid for the broadsheet in 1993 -- about a dime on the dollar.
The best-case scenario for the Gray Lady: a bidding war between two ego-driven suitors.
-- Much has been made of the 28,000 subscribers who pay to read bostonglobe.com -- and how that online circulation adds to the Globe's value. But the big question is whether that number has peaked.
Joshua Benton, director of Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab, predicted "steady but not huge growth" for bostonglobe.com.
Benton pointed out that while the Internet opened up a global paying audience that didn't have access to the Times before, the market for the Globe, and other metro newspapers, is limited to their region.
That makes it unlikely that any daily will recoup its lost print circulation -- much less its lost advertising revenue -- with truly new readers, let alone enough old ones willing to pay online, at least in the current climate.
-- Another question is whether the Times will add injury to insult by dumping the Globe, then turning around and competing against it.
Harold Vogel, media analyst and head of Vogel Capital Management in New York, believes the Times will beef up here. "Boston is a major fund-managing center. And so the New York Times is must-reading for the investment community, which is huge in Boston," he said. "You have all the money managers. They read the Times. I would think they would want to improve their footprint through the regular products."
--Finally, and sadly, we need to brace for a resurrection of the "Save the Globe" campaign.
Faced with a threatened shutdown by the Times in 2009, the broadsheet's biggest union and its PR firm organized a Boston rally to "save" the paper and raised eyebrows when they invited every Bay State lawmaker in the House and Senate -- the politicians they cover.
Prediction: another round of ringing endorsements from Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and everybody running for the Senate, as well as the usual nonprofit suspects, the Boston Foundation and MassINC.
Me, I can't wait to read all about it.
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