The deals of this past weekend marked the low-point of the great media depression.
The New York Times Co, which has been searching high and low for somebody to take the Boston Globe off its hands, reached out to former business partner John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox.
The Times was able to get Henry to pay $70M for the once-mighty Globe with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette tossed in as a “sweetener.” That’s a far cry from the paper’s $1.1B acquisition of the Globe in 1993 and the $295M outlay that it paid for the Telegram in 1999.
New York Times Co. chief Mark Thompson gamely noted that the company’s happy that Henry has “strong local roots,” as if the Old Gray Lady would have turned down anyone willing to take the papers off its hands. The Times even let Henry off the hook for the pension obligations of the Globe and Telegram. To his credit, Thompson wasn’t around when the Times unveiled its New England strategy.
Former Big Three weekly Newsweek also has a new owner as all-digital IBT Media agreed to be the latest owner to try to make a go of it.
Newsweek, which was once the pride of the Washington Post Co, which has been revamping itself with off-the-wall acquisitions such as Forney Corp., a maker of parts for industrial boilers, has been passed around like a hot potato.
The Post unloaded Newsweek to stereo magnate Sidney Harman in 2010 for $1 and the assumption of $40M in liabilities. Harman then passed the magazine to media mogul Barry Diller’s IAC Internet network, merging it into the Daily Beast under the once-talked editor about Tina Brown.
The now digital-only Newsweek is down to about 20 staffers, which is hardly even a shadow of its once formidable self.
IBT, which publishes its flagship International Business Times and specialty items like Latin Times, sees value in the Newsweek brand. It might be the only one to do so.
How much lower can the media go? Things have got to be looking up.