Boston Globe New York Times Owners Locked in Battle with Employees Threatening Our Regional Press Freedoms

Tom Mashberg former union official at the Boston Herald has commented on the current Boston Globe owners threat to shut down the newspaper. Mashberg offers advice to both Globe managers and union members as he had to deal with a similar desperation in 2005 to allegedly keep the struggling Boston Herald afloat. His comments appear to be sincere and I would like to take them as such.

It is common knowledge that Herald employees that are still employed have made many sacrifices to keep the publication alive and breathing. However, an interesting point to what appears to be different from what is going on with the Globe and Employee Unions is an apparently lack of candor on the part of the New York owners. This only adds fuel to an increasing bonfire of credibility.

Mashberg states the differences between the Boston Globe and Boston Herald in dealing with the crisis facing their survival. This has caused a wedge to any solution to keep the Globe a viable newspaper from death.

Patrick J. Purcell is a local based publisher of the Herald who makes decisions. Some say Purcell is joined at the hip and has been accused of being a Rupert Murdock media mogul front guy though never openly proven. This may have some suspicion as the Herald which closed its own printing plant displacing many workers is printed at a Murdock owned printing plant in Chicopee and not Boston. Also, the Murdock empire recently purchased a Massachusetts regional newspaper chain and Purcell is performing management services? Additionally, the Herald employees have traditionally always received survival wages from a most long timestruggling newspaper management.

This states the difference in the survival mode of what the Herald endures versus the antics what the New York Globe is doing. Mashberg says the Herald publisher lets the union review Herald books every three months. No one makes a lot of money at the Herald he states including the publisher.

Trying to have sympathy for the New York Times owners is most difficult. The management of the Globe took bonuses despite losing over $50 million last year. Those in New York did the same as well as the owners getting shocking rewards despite losing billions in stock value. This should not have been done and smacks of another AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch fiasco without the taxpayer bailout as yet.

Now Globe mangers are threatening to shut down the newspaper unless more and more concessions are given up by a beleaguered workforce. This is scaring the remaining advertisers and does not help a sincere survival process lacking opening up all financial books to the union. This private business has placed the public eye on itself and should therefore open its books to the workers, advertisers, and general public to insure validity of what is going on.

The public knows that newspapers are drying up all over the country because of the new media of the internet, blogs, and cable news. The time has come for total transparency and oversight by Globe and the New York owners. Or, is this a game to file bankruptcy, take a tax loss for a toxic asset, or sale to a liquidator at 1, 5 to 10 cents on the one billion dollar plus previously paid for the newspaper and thus removing the union entities?

The politicians crying because of the pending potential demise should view the Boston Globe and the cancer plaguing the newspaper industry. We are watching a serious threat to press freedoms, free speech, transparency, oversight, and accountability in Government, Business, and Labor.

(Note: Published also on John Gatti Jr. Blog at The New England News Forum Website)

Northeastern University recently hosted a forum on Government Accountability and Transparency that needed a real discussion and solutions for government credibility at all levels under siege.

The business of government accountability and oversight limits itself to two factions.

One is the Special Interests and organizations who profit at the expense of the taxpayers and citizens. Then the others who wear masks and state they profess to be for accountability and oversight thereby also profiting in fundraising and employment. These types rarely go beyond the cursory.

Then there are the others to name a few and leave no one out who state the facts and investigate to determine the truth even at their own peril or challenges to their careers. They include Peter Scannell, Harry Markopolos, Peter Howe, John Strahanich, David Kassel,Wendell Woodman, John Coughlin, Claire Donahue, Tom Moorman, Joe Bergantino, Tom Hammond,Steve Cotton, Larry Overlan to name a few of the many who could be the real panelists with real facts and not part of the usual establishment who parade in when a so called good government advocate is needed in a crisis of government confidence.