Fifty-six. Is it the new 65? Ask Steven Ainsley, the 56-year-old publisher of The Boston Globe. He is retiring, parent company New York Times Co said on Thursday, after three years as publisher. His successor is Christopher Mayer, 47, who joined the globe in 1984.
You could be forgiven for feeling like you heard it all before when you woke up this morning to headlines saying that The Boston Globe’s management and its largest union held talks to discuss pay cuts and other concessions to keep the 137-year-old daily newspaper breathing.
Covering the roiling labor dispute between The New York Times-owned Boston Globe and its biggest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, is all about hours (or days) of tedium, punctuated by brief, jarring moments of action — usually when reporters are scrambling to catch up with the Globe’s own coverage of its future.******Our Boston-based interin Erin Kutz got a taste of this on Monday when I asked if she could go to Weymouth, Massachusetts, to stake out the scheduled talks between the Globe and the guild.******To recap: Guild members on June 8 rejected a concession package that the Times Co said it needed to get $10 million in savings that would help save the paper from, well, annihilation. In response to the union’s “no” vote, the Times did what it promised to do: cut guild salaries by 23 percent to get the savings. Now, the two sides are about to duke it out in front of the National Labor Relations Board, which has its first hearing on the case on Tuesday.******But first, the guild and the union met in Weymouth today to discuss… stuff. The Times said it was about implementing the pay cut. The guild said it was an opportunity to present a new proposal. The Times doesn’t want to give the impression that it’s still open to discussion because the only way that it can get the government to allow the 23 percent pay cut is to prove that it reached an impasse with the guild.******So what’s going on in there? Erin reported back that nobody is saying very much, even after waiting there with the TV crews for more than four hours. Talks are scheduled to go on, but in the meantime, Globe reporter and union member Scott Allen brought this message from guild President Dan Totten, who’s locked up with the Times crew in Weymouth:***
Things are moving forward. I can tell you they’re speaking in civil tones. I think the mood by the end of last week was as bad as the situation is. It is something we can fix and both sides, management included, are motivated to bring this thing to a close and move on to the next chapter.
News Corp Chief Executive showed up for his latest interview on the Fox Business Network (which he owns) on Monday. Here is a transcript of some of his remarks. He covered a lot of ground, from tonight’s union concession vote at The Boston Globe to the future of newspapers and the inclusion of software on computers sold in China that will block access to certain websites. We are providing excerpts — we trimmed for length, most notably excising his comments on healthcare and taxes (We know it’s the Internet, but we had to shorten it up a bit. You can see or read the whole thing here.
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 first question one of my editors asked me on Friday night when hearing that The New York Times Co threatened to shut down The Boston Globe was whether it was a negotiating tactic. That’s an easy one, for sure. Unions causing you problems at your business? Need to cut costs? Threaten to kill the whole business. It helps your adversaries reorganize their priorities right quick (Though sometimes they really mean it. Look at Hearst in Seattle).