New York Times Co. Threatens to Shutter The Boston Globe

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 4, 2009

In a striking example of corporate hardball, the New York Times Co. has threatened to shut down one of its journalistic jewels, the Boston Globe, unless the New England paper's unions agree to sweeping concessions.

The Globe quoted union officials last night as saying that Times and Globe executives made the demands in a 90-minute meeting with union officials. The unions were asked to quickly agree to $20 million in cost-cutting moves to avoid the potential shutdown.

The executives told the union leaders that the Boston paper will lose $85 million this year without serious cutbacks, the Globe report said. An employee briefed on the discussions was quoted as saying the Globe lost $50 million last year.

Such demands have become an increasingly common tactic in the struggling newspaper business, and it is hard to imagine that the Times would actually abandon the paper it bought for $1.1 billion in 1993. Hearst recently used a threat to close the San Francisco Chronicle to win swift union concessions. The Times newspaper said last week that it is laying off 100 employees and cutting the salaries of most of those who remain by as much as 5 percent this year.

The Times has generally granted the Globe editorial independence, but declining revenue has prompted cutbacks that have forced the Boston paper to limit its Washington and foreign coverage and to focus on regional news.

Representatives of both papers declined to comment for the Globe report. Ralph Giallanella, secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters Local that represents Globe drivers, was quoted as saying: "The ad revenues have fallen off the cliff. Just based on everything that's going on around the country, they're serious."

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