Calling all aspiring media tycoons: The New York Times is reportedly shopping around The Boston Globe to potential buyers — again — and it won't cost 10 figures this time. According to Bloomberg's Edmund Lee and Jeffrey McCracken, the New York Times Co. has retained Evercore Partners Inc. to help it find potential buyers, and the Times has since confirmed its intentions to sell its New England Media Group. The Times bought Boston's 141-year-old daily back in 1993 for a whopping $1.1 billion. It will
probably definitely not see a return on that investment, despite trying to bring it back to profitability between multiple efforts to put the Globe back on the chopping block.
Indeed, to some media observers, it seems like there are rumors of the Times selling he Globe every year: its chief competitors at The Wall Street Journal seemed to enjoy the difficulties dating back to 2009, and in May 2012, New York Magazine's Joe Hagan said the paper was back on the market again. But the Globe is the last property fully owned by the Times Co. outside its core brand, after the Times sold off About.com for $300 million to Barry Diller last year, and sold a collection of regional papers before that — at a loss estimated at more than $100 million.
Beyond figuring out how much the Grey Lady's former mistress is actually worth these days, the next question is who, exactly, wants to buy a longstanding newspaper anymore. And maybe more importantly: Who wants to buy a newspaper in a newspaper-loving market that could never get profitable — even amidst buyouts and layoffs — under one of the only newspaper owners that can make digital and subscriptions work again? Some on Twitter have suggested Mitt Romney should try and turn the paper around. Those people are the worst. (And the Ben Affleck jokes are worse than that.) Donald Trump isn't really a Boston guy, but there were rumors he was trying to buy the Times in January. We knew that was never going to turn out. This could be a nice consolation prize.
No, sorry, it wouldn't. We would never wish something like that on the nice people of Boston. And, in all seriousness, private-equity firms and actual rich people from Boston may or may not come to the rescue.
Politico's Dylan Byers comes through with the full memo sent to Times staff from CEO Mark Thompson and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.:
Over the past several years, we have recast our Company, introducing new products and business models, while delivering the highest quality journalism to our readers and advertisers. During that same time, we have made some difficult decisions about the direction and composition of our Company.
Today we are announcing that we plan to sell our New England Media Group, which includes The Boston Globe, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and their related properties. The sale of the New England Media Group will allow us to sharpen our strategic and financial focus on The New York Times brand.
This was not an easy decision as the New England Media Group has, for many years, brought tremendous value to our Company. While part of the Times Company, The Boston Globe has been awarded 10 Pulitzer Prizes and many other professional awards.
We want to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues at the Globe and T&G for their many substantial contributions to our journalistic reputation and to our Company overall.
To read the press release, click here.
Arthur and Mark
Update 4:19 p.m.: The Times comes through with its own report. Apparently the paper will be put up for auction:
The Times Company is expected to seek a purchaser in an auction, but in a press release said “there can be no assurance that any transaction will take place.”
Can we get one dollar? One dollar?