When will the Boston Globe close?

May 8, 2009

Robert Gavin of the Boston Globe interviews his own publisher today, and for all the pro-forma statements that the Globe isn’t going anywhere (“the Globe will still be publishing a year from now – and beyond”), the matter is explicitly and entirely out of his control:

The paper had just completed the reduction of 50 jobs in the newsroom when the Times Co. called union leaders together and threatened to shutter the Globe unless they agreed to major concessions. Ainsley said that decision was made by top executives in New York and that the Globe’s losses, coming on top of the dismal first quarter for the Times Co., likely forced their hands. He described it as the likely cause, because he said he doesn’t know exactly what the reasoning was.

“That wasn’t my call, that wasn’t my decision. That was made at the upper reaches of the company so you’d really have to ask them,” he said.

If you read the whole article, it’s pretty clear that the Globe is losing an enormous amount of money right now; that it has essentially zero chance of being profitable at any point in the foreseeable future; and that the chances of anybody wanting to pay good money for it have gone from Jack Welch to zero.

Given all that, it seems to me that the Globe is surviving mainly on an unsustainable mix of nostalgia, pity, and desperate hope, mixed with a certain quantity of noblesse oblige on the part of the Sulzbergers. I put the over at 14 months, and the under at nine.


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