The New York Times is selling the Boston Globe and the rest of its New England Media Group to John Henry, the billionaire who’s principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, for $70 million in cash.
The news has prompted some rather depressing comments about the Globe’s relative worth. For example, Ken Doctor at the Nieman Journalism Lab noted that the price is $12 million less than the five-year contract that Red Sox pitcher John Lackey signed in 2009. But harshest comparison may with the Globe of 20 years ago, which The Times acquired for $1.1 billion.
Along with the Globe newspaper, the sale includes the BostonGlobe.com website, Boston.com, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Telegram.com, and the globe’s direct mail marketing company Globe Direct.
In its most recent earnings report, The Times said its New England Media Group’s revenue was down 7.4 percent year-over-year, with a 2.3 percent drop in circulation revenue and a 9.5 percent decrease in advertising. (In contrast, The New York Times Media Group saw revenue increase 0.8 percent, with a 6.6 percent increase in circulation revenue.) At the end of the last quarter, the Globe had 39,000 digital-only subscribers.
“As a result of this agreement, we will be able to sharpen our company focus on and investments in The New York Times brand and its journalism,” said Times President and CEO Mark Thompson in a press release.
In a statement published in The Times, Henry said, “This is a thriving, dynamic region that needs a strong, sustainable Boston Globe playing an integral role in the community’s long-term future. In coming days there will be announcements concerning those joining me in this community commitment and effort.”
Other recent sales by The Times include the purchase of About.com by IAC for $300 million.