Times Co. executives meet with Globe employees
Top executives from the Boston Globe's parent company told employees this morning that the newspaper is on a path to profitability as a result of pay cuts and price increases implemented over the summer.
In a largely civil meeting with about 200 workers at the Globe's offices, New York Times Co. chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Chief Executive Janet L. Robinson thanked employees for their sacrifices and stressed that the improved financial conditions meant the company does not need to sell the paper if offers are not satisfactory. The company confirmed in August that it had hired investment banker Goldman Sachs to help explore a sale of the New England Media Group, which includes the Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Sulzberger said they have received preliminary bids and would begin taking prospective buyers through the Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette over the next couple of days, but no decision has been made.
"Our hand is not being forced," Sulzberger said. "We are not in a situation where we must absolutely sell the Globe or the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for the good of the company."
Sulzberger said a decision on the sale would hinge on several factors, including the price and the impact of a sale on the Globe's journalism, its readers, and the Greater Boston community.
Globe publisher P. Steven Ainsley, meanwhile, said the paper's executives also hoped to decide on a new strategy on whether and how to charge for access to content on Boston.com by year's end. He said there are a number of possible scenarios, including putting the site behind a pay wall, but such a move would have to balance the potential for increased revenue against a potential loss of visitors if the site was no longer free. "It's an enormously complicated analysis," he said.
Today's meeting, which lasted just over an hour, marked the first time Times Co. executives have met with Globe employees in more than a year. A common complaint among Globe employees was that the most senior Times Co. executives did not travel to Boston for a face-to-face meeting with employees at which they might have explained the paperís financial condition and made the case for sacrifices.
Sulzberger acknowledged that "reasonable men and women may disagree about whether we should have come here before to talk to you." But he made no apologies for the Times Co.'s strategy to seek cuts from Globe employees.
The meeting today was contentious at times, as classified sales employee Jeanne Shimkus drew a smattering of applause when she attacked the Times Co. executives for imposing cuts on employees and questioned their credibility. "I have no respect for anything you say. And I don't believe a word you say," Shimkus said.
Sulzberger quickly moved on to the next question. "If you have no respect for anything I say, and you don't believe anything I say, then we don't have the basis for a conversation and a dialogue," he told her.
Marty Callaghan, president of the Boston Newspaper Printing Pressmen's Union, urged Sulzberger and Robinson to make sure any prospective owner knew how many sacrifices workers have made this year. "You banged us around really good," Callaghan said. "Some new owner better not come in here and think that they are going to go, with the way things usually go, and come in and bang these unions around again."
Times and Globe executives said the company will continue to look for ways to trim expenses, but did not outline any specific plans for job cuts or other reductions. "We're always looking for efficiencies," said Globe publisher Ainsley. "We're always looking at staffing."
But he added, "We're spending a lot of time waiting on seeing what the economy does for us over the next few months before we make any specific decisions."