Boston Globe, still alive

When we went to bed late last night, the state of play on The Boston Globe didn’t look so hot. Since then… it’s still not looking so hot.

The short story: Some of the Globe’s union appear to have reached tentative accords with the Globe and its parent company, The New York Times, which has threatened to shut down the money-losing paper if it doesn’t win $20 million in concessions. The Boston Newspaper Guild, which is on the hook for $10 million alone, said it has offered more than it has to, but it appears to not have been enough so far. The Times Co, meanwhile, said it would file a federal government notice that it intends to shut the paper. The big issue? Lifetime job guarantees that the Times wants to eliminate.

Here’s the latest from the sleepless reporters at its smaller competitor, the Boston Herald:

Boston Newspaper Guild president Dan Totten left Sacred Heart School at 6:45 a.m. today – nearly seven hours after the midnight deadline – and said the union was taking a “break” from negotiations. The Times had extended the deadline to come up with concessions from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday. “We continue to negotiate in good faith. Negotiations are ongoing and we’ll reconvene at a later time. We’re just going to take a little break for now and move on from here,” Totten said shortly before 6:45 a.m. today. Totten said it was “unlikely” negotiations would resume today and he would not comment on whether the Times had extended the deadline again.

And here’s the Globe reporting on its website:

Shortly before 4:30 a.m. this morning, the Teamsters Local 1 president Mary White, representing 245 mailers at the Globe, said the union had reached a tentative agreement that included $5 million in concessions and changes in the lifetime job guarantee protecting 145 of its members. … The mailers’ agreement followed another post-deadline deal reached with Teamsters Local 259, representing 210 Boston Globe drivers, according to Ralph Giallanella, the union’s secretary-treasurer. Giallanella would not disclose the details, but said union leaders came to an agreement worth about $2.5 million in concessions. Still, Globe unions, negotiating almost five hours after the deadline passed, have more work to do. The lifetime job guarantees will likely continue to be an issue with the final two unions still seeking an agreement – the pressmen’s union and the Boston Newspaper Guild. And both are now negotiating under growing pressure to meet management’s demands.

Your newspaper died? People don’t care

I hope I’m not violating any journalistic obligations toward objectivity by calling the following piece of news from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press rather depressing.

The group said that fewer than half of Americans, 43 percent, say that losing their local paper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Just 33percent say that they would miss reading the paper a lot if it went away.

And that’s the good news! According to the study, 42 percent of respondents answered “not much” or “not at all” when asked if they would miss their papers. That’s not the kind of news that inspires folks at papers threatened with shutdown like the Tucson Citizen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Chronicle, not to mention ones that have shut down like the Rocky Mountain News.

More government aid to newspapers

The last time I mentioned the word “bailout” in connection with newspapers, I caught my fair share of flak from the conservative blogosphere for even entertaining the notion. I also caught a few rounds from Connecticut lawmakers who thought that I was suggesting their attempt to help secure tax breaks for struggling newspapers amounted to a bailout.

Having said that, it looks like Washington state is getting into the aid game as Hearst Corp weighs killing its Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper.

Here’s an Associated Press report about Washington’s state House of Representatives approving a temporary tax break for newspapers:

Hey buddy, don’t knock my newspaper!

The 24/7 Wall Street blog’s list of newspapers that it teed up as going out of business this year is making a certain group of people rather unhappy — the people who run those papers. Two of them are so hopping mad that they have aired their complaints to the public.

You can read the whole list on 24/7 Wall Street, but here is what it said about:

New York Daily News:

NY Daily News is one of several large papers fighting for circulation and advertising in the New York City area. Unlike The New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, and Newark Star Ledger, the Daily News is not owned by a larger organization. Real estate billionaire Mort Zuckerman owns the paper. Based on figures from other big dailies it could easily lose $60 million or $70 million and has no chance of recovering from that level

Happy trails, Rocky Mountain News

EW Scripps Co’s decision to shut down Denver’s Rocky Mountain News as of Friday offers an interesting lesson about the value of news.

But first, a bit of background: It is not the first U.S. daily to fail as the economy falters. Scripps already put down two other papers in recent memory (Albuquerque, New Mexico and Cincinnati, Ohio, its home town). Having said that, it’s the biggest daily that I can think of to go under since the newspaper apocalypse crept in like Death in the Bosch painting. Not just bankrupt like Tribune’s papers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune or The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and the whole Journal Register stable — and not just threatened with closing like Hearst has done with the San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It’s really over.

When it goes, William Dean Singleton’s Denver-based MediaNews Group will still publish the Denver Post. Still, half the printed news that Colorado residents have been used to reading will be gone.