Who Will Buy The Worcester Telegram?
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
And even though the Times Co. has said it would like to sell the whole of New England Media Group, which includes the Globe and Telegram and their associated web properties, together, the company has not ruled out selling off the papers individually if a buyer for both is not forthcoming.
"There's a tremendous amount of anxiety, obviously, as to what's going to happen," said John Hill, president of the Providence Newspaper Guild, which represents around 70 positions at the Worcester Telegram, as well as members at the Woonsocket Call, Pawtucket Times, Providence Journal and Brockton Enterprise.
Hill said that the two papers could be sold individually or together as a group, or someone could buy both and sell the Telegram off. Alternatively, there could be no sale at all, like in 2009 when the Times Co. put the papers up for sale but found no takers. However, Hill said the talk surrounding the sale this time around sounds a lot more serious than it did in the past.
"Until we know what's going to happen and how this is going to unfold, we're not really sure how to react," he said.
Separate or together?
Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for The Poynter Institute, said he could see a sale going either way, keeping the two papers together or splitting them off into separate purchases.
"The newspapers share a number of functions and last I looked a few years ago even some common sections. So that is a plus for keeping them together," he said. "But certain owners might see the T&G as a drain and distraction."
On the other hand, Dan Kennedy, professor at Northeastern University's School of Journalism and media blogger at Media Nation, said a split would be in the best interest of both the Globe and the Telegram.
"I never thought the Globe and the T&G made for a natural pairing, and I think it would be good for everyone — especially the communities served by those papers — if both were in the hands of separate local owners."
Local vs. regional ownership
Kennedy said questions of the Telegram's future relationship with the Globe will likely hinge on whether a potential buyer or investment group in the Worcester area who is motivated and well-financed enough to take the paper on as an independent entity.
Both Edmonds and Kennedy said they think the Times Co. is ready to take the Worcester paper off its books one way or another.
"I can't imagine selling the Globe but keeping the T&G," Kennedy said. "From the Times Co.'s point of view, I doubt anyone cares whether the Globe and the T&G remain together or are split."
With so many questions still unanswered, including whether a sale of one or both papers will go through, guild members are keeping a close eye on any developments.
"It's a very complicated relationship with the two papers," Hill said.
"We're very curious to see how this unfolds."
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