Monday, May 4, 2009

Some good news, a little bad news on newspaper front

Happy Monday. Rainy days and Mondays...You know. 

Some good news on the newspaper front: It looks as if The Boston Globe will live to fight another day. 

According to Newspaper&Technology: The Globe's owners, otherwise known as The New York Times Co., announced that it had reached deals with six out of seven unions and would not be issuing a 60-day shutdown notice. It looks as if the six unions gave the paper enough of the the $20 million in cuts and givebacks it said it needed to forestall the shutdown. The Times had threatened to shut down the paper, the largest in New England, unless the concessions were reached.

The Newspaper Guild, which represents 700 editorial, advertising and business office employees, did not reach an agreement with the paper.

"We are very pleased to have reached agreements with six of the seven unions that were involved in recent negotiations," The Globe said in a statement. "As a result of these agreements, which are subject to ratification by union members, we expect to achieve both the workplace flexibility and the financial savings that we sought from these unions."

But all might not be well in Globedom. The Globe said it will now pursue other options with the Guild "to achieve as quickly as possible the workplace flexibility and remaining cost-savings we need to put The Globe on sound financial footing." 

Maybe that's a good thing for the workers, or maybe it just puts the sword of Damocles over their heads a little longer. Pursuing other options could mean more layoffs or it could mean finding a way to make money from Web ads. Time will tell.

Now for the bad news. Two other newspaper groups have filed for protection under the Bankruptcy Act. 

American Community Newspapers, which publishes more than 80 papers, mostly community weeklies,  in Texas, Minnesota, Ohio and Northern Virginia, owes $273,000 to Gannett for printing. That's walking around money for Gannett, which is listed as ACN's largest creditor. 

The other company, Vancouver, Wash.-based Columbian Publishing Co., owes $17 million to Bank of America. Columbian borrowed the money to for a building in downtown Vancouver and BofA wants its money. The company filed in order to address credit issues with BofA, it said.

That makes seven newspaper groups, some large, some small, that so far have sought protection under the Bankruptcy Act. Let's see: The other five are Tribune, Tribune Co., Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune, Journal Register Co. and the Sun-Times Media Group.

Page 2

Here's something you don't see too often: a newspaper announcing that it had filed for bankruptcy protection.

Columbian Editor Lou Broncoccio wrote a column detailing the bankruptcy and what led up to it and his hopes for the future. 

That takes guts. Looking at your future hopes and dreams is one thing. Sharing the possible tearing asunder of those hopes and dreams is another. 

The Columbian is a paper that covers Clark County, Washington. There were a lot of fires yesterday there: a longtime bowling alley caught fire, a man who had been burned died and another who somehow burned will survive, the paper said.

But the burning issue for Lou and his staff is survival. He said his group was tough and the tough survive.

I hope so, Lou.

Page 3

Hey, weathermen. Get your act together. No, not the most radical members of the Students for a Democratic Society, made famous by Bob Dylan (you don't need a Weatherman to tell you how the wind blows).

I'm talking about Geoff Fox and Brad Field (there's a real name for you) and whoever took over for Hilton at Channel 3. You know, weathermen. Those people who promo the weather at the top of the news show, then give the statistics and show the map halfway through the show, then promo the forecast, and who finally give the forecast five minutes from the end of the show. Those people.

Hey, don't you know it's May. Showers are for April. This is May. Knock it off.

Until next time...

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