4,000 Boston Globe readers can’t be wrong
Next Monday is the day when members of The Boston Globe’s biggest union will vote on concessions that the paper’s owner, The New York Times Co, says are necessary to keep the paper from closing. The public relations campaign is heating up already.
The Boston Newspaper Guild published a press release on Friday about the testimonials of 4,000 Bostonians who signed an online petition to save the Globe. Their comments are stirring, but nothing talks like money.
Let’s take a look: The New York Times says it needs $20 million in cost cuts from several Globe unions. At that point, the paper will be on track to lose only $65 million this year, not the $85 million currently projected. A smaller loss, the thinking goes, might make the paper more attractive to a buyer once the Times can rustle one up.
The Boston Newspaper Guild is signaling — quite strongly — that it doesn’t like the cost concessions that it tentatively agreed to. Who would, after reading The New Yorker story quoting columnist Thomas Friedman saying that he gets leeway from the NYT to spend as much as he wants to travel wherever he wants to write whatever he wants? (The concessions include 8.3 percent pay cuts, furloughs, more flexibility with layoffs, etc.)
The Times has said that it will slash Globe staffers’ pay by 23 percent if it doesn’t get an agreement from the guild. The union has said, essentially, that the Times wouldn’t dare, and that if it did, it would take the company to court. The Times has said that it is ready to kill the paper if things spin out of control.
Here are two proposals to stop the bickering:
- Ask the 4,000 people who signed the petition to come up with $10 million instead of the guild. Ask them to each pledge $2,500. Better yet, ask them to come up with $20 million to help out all the unions. That’ll cost each petitioner $5,000. Pretty steep, but if you love the paper that much…
- How about you dig a little deeper — deep enough to get the Globe out of the hole this year? That is $85 million. That’s $21,250 each. Steep, yes, but how much do you love your paper?
Neither (admittedly tongue-in-cheek) payment plan would get rid of the cause of those losses, but at least it would give the Times Co a few more months to find someone willing to buy the Globe at a firesale price. If they do it quickly enough, they’ll find a buyer so committed to civic pride that he or she won’t have time to think about how much money it will cost to actually *run* the thing.