Globe in talks to print Herald
The Boston Globe is negotiating a contract to print and deliver its long-time rival the Boston Herald, according to executives from both companies.
Under terms outlined today, the Herald would pay the Globe an undisclosed sum annually to print and distribute the tabloid in the Boston area. Because the Herald would no longer be delivering its own papers, the deal would result in the layoffs of the newspaper’s truck drivers.
Herald publisher Pat Purcell told drivers during a meeting today that he will propose severance packages for affected employees and emphasized the need for expedited negotiations about the reorganization plan. In a statement, the Herald said it is "confronted with declining circulation and revenue and must take steps to reduce operating expenses.”
Although the Globe already distributes some copies of the Herald, the deal represents an unprecedented level of cooperation between the long-time rivals, with each to benefit in different ways. The Herald would be able to cut labor costs, while the Globe would gain another customer for its printing and delivery services, a growing source of revenue for the newspaper in recent years.
“We are discussing a business opportunity to print the Herald and expand the area in which we currently deliver their newspaper,” said Boston Globe Publisher, Christopher Mayer. “This agreement would be similar to contracts we currently have with other local newspapers, and it would not affect any other areas of our operation."
The editorial and other business operations of the newspapers would remain separate.
The Globe already has contracts to print and distribute the Patriot Ledger of Quincy and the Enterprise of Brockton, and local editions of The New York Times. Newspapers around the country have entered into similar arrangements to consolidate operations and save money as readers and advertisers have migrated to the Internet for news.
Purcell declined to be interviewed today. Union officials at local 259, which represents drivers at the Herald and Globe, declined to comment or discuss how many Herald drivers would be impacted.
The latest cuts may expedite that paper’s move from the company’s long-time headquarters in the South End. Purcell has entered into a joint venture to redevelop the 6.6-acre site with the Newton firm National Development.
The Globe would print and deliver the Herald’s city edition Sunday through Friday, with the balance of its editions to be printed those days at a Dow Jones & Co. plant in Chicopee. The Globe would print the Herald’s full press run on Saturdays.
A Globe subsidiary, RSI, currently distributes the Herald single-copy papers to Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands, and parts of New Hampshire and Maine.
The layoffs at the Herald would continue a recent trend of downsizing that has swept through the media industry in recent years. In 2008, the tabloid terminated more than 130 employees when it shuttered its presses and outsourced printing operations to the Chicopee plant operated by Dow Jones. It has also cut its newsroom staffing.
The Globe has also struggled through several rounds of layoffs and buy-outs in its newsroom and other operations, and was threatened with closure in 2009. But the Globe's financial performance improved after labor concessions, plant consolidation, and a price increase.
Executives at the newspaper said the agreement with the Herald would result in the hiring of an as-yet unspecified number of additional employees.