The New York Times Co. announced Wednesday afternoon that it would seek a buyer for its New England Media Group, which includes The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Globe and T&G employees are only some of the people who’d like to know who might buy the properties. They’ll have town hall meetings on Friday with Times Co. vice chairman Michael Golden, Globe Publisher Chris Mayer told staffers in an email Wednesday evening. But the rest of us can only rely on published accounts wondering who might bite on the papers, a process Mayer said he expects “will take several months”…
• Probably none of the people who tweeted #whenibuytheglobe Wednesday. But some of their business plans are pretty funny.
#WhenIBuyTheGlobe it will run a daily “corrections” column pointing out errors in the Herald.
— David S. Bernstein (@dbernstein) February 20, 2013
• Ira Stoll suggests Mike Barnicle, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and 23 other entities.
• Maybe one of the “Investor bigs” identified by the Boston Herald? Spurned former suitors like O.C. Register owner Aaron Kushner or Boston businessman Jack Connors, who joined Kushner’s 2011 bid for the paper? (Note the byline on that story.)
• Kushner has expressed interest in buying the Los Angeles Times or even the whole Tribune Co. stable of newspapers: “I think it’s a pretty small group that potentially could fit our model,” he told the Associated Press in December. In an email to Poynter, a spokesperson for Kushner-owned Freedom Communications declined to comment on speculation he may bid on the Globe.
• Or maybe Warren Buffett? The Globe doesn’t really fit Buffett’s criteria (Boston’s too big, and the paper has a competitor), but the Worcester Telegram & Gazette might, Poynter’s Rick Edmonds tells the latter paper’s Bob Kievra and Priyanka Dayal McCluskey. Polar Beverages Co. President Ralph D. Crowley Jr. tells the T&G he was “worn out” from a previous purchase attempt, that he would want only the smaller paper and, well…
“I’m watching from the sidelines,” Mr. Crowley said last night. “And nobody has nursed me off.”
• Ken Doctor reckons the Globe will go for “go for $100-$150 million.” He isn’t high on Buffett as a suitor, either, but he does drop a tantalizing tidbit about Berkshire Hathaway: “Although do expect an announcement of another Berkshire Hathaway newspaper acquisition — as soon as Monday.”
Doctor says the Globe’s digital-subscription base isn’t too shabby: “It may seem low, but I haven’t heard of many metros with more; most aren’t disclosing numbers at all.” A good goal for newspapers, he says, is getting 3 percent of its readers to be digital-only customers.
At 28,000, it’s just under 1 percent — not bad, but not great — for its first year of paywall operation. Consider it a strong beginning, with lots of upside potential.
Some newspaper industry executives said Rupert Murdoch — head of News Corp., which owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post — should not be ruled out as a serious suitor. Murdoch also owns the Ottaway group of community papers that include the Cape Cod Times and the Standard-Times of New Bedford. Murdoch used to own the Boston Herald. Nathaniel Brown, a spokesman for News Corp., declined to comment.
• Jeff John Roberts, meanwhile, wonders who will buy Globe subscriptions:
The Globe’s strategy to use its digital products as leverage to squeeze more revenue out of its home delivery service…makes sense in the short term. But the paper simply won’t be able to maintain its 360 person newsroom much longer unless there is a sudden uptick in people under 30 buying home delivery subscriptions.
• Memo from Globe Publisher and NEMG President Chris Mayer to staff:
As you know from Arthur and Mark’s note, the Times Company has announced its plans to sell the New England Media Group. We have just begun the process and expect that it will take several months.
We are certain you have many questions and, although it is early in the sale process, we will do our best to answer as many of them as possible. We will hold Town Hall meetings at the Globe on Friday, February 22, at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., and meetings at the Telegram & Gazette at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Michael Golden will join us for those meetings.
In the meantime, thank you for your continued hard work and your focus on delivering the high quality journalism that our readers and advertisers expect from us.