Today’s Boston Globe has a two-fisted reaction to the result of this week’s Boston Herald bake sale (which, by the way, was rubber-stamped by a Delaware bankruptcy court this morning).
Begin with the piece by Jon Chesto and Andy Rosen in the Globe’s Business section.
Digital First’s playbook suggests more cuts at Herald
Solid profit targets and shareholder returns called key
Digital First Media hasn’t yet made its vision for the Boston Herald public, as it goes before a bankruptcy judge Friday for approval of its $12 million purchase of the struggling tabloid.
But industry experts and former employees said that if the company sticks to the playbook it uses at many of its other newspapers around the country, the Herald should brace for more cost-cutting beyond the 60 or so positions that are expected to be eliminated when the sale closes later this spring.
If that was a jab, Joshua Benton’s op-ed is the haymaker. The Nieman Journalism Lab director went smashmouth on Digital First Media, “the nom de pillage of what used to be known as the Journal Register Co. and MediaNews Group.” Digital First is owned by the hedge fund Alden Capitol Group, which gets a good beatdown by Benton.
Alden’s methods fall under the rubric of what some call vulture capitalism: Buy up papers, sell off whatever assets you can (like their offices downtown), and cut costs to the bone. The end game is to be sold off, or just shut down. To be owned by Digital First is to be gutted.
Read the piece all the way to this end: “[S]hort of setting the place on fire, being bought by Digital First is about the worst outcome possible. It’s less the Herald being saved than the Herald being stripped for parts.”
The death watch begins . . . now.