Janet L. Robinson
president & ceo, the new york times company
CEO hints Times Co. won't sell Globe
The New York Times Co. remains committed to the New England market and The Boston Globe despite the financial difficulties roiling the newspaper and traditional media in general, Janet L. Robinson, Times Co. chief executive, said yesterday.
In a speech to hundreds of Boston business and political leaders that laid out a long-term vision for the Globe under Times Co. ownership and in responses to questions from reporters afterward, Robinson suggested Times co. has no plans to sell the Globe. A sale has been the subject of speculation in recent months. A local group led by Jack Welch, former General Electric Co. chairman, and Jack Connors, cofounder of Boston ad agency Hill Holliday, recently sought exclusive rights to negotiate a purchase of the Globe, which Times Co. rejected.
"The Boston Globe is an extremely important asset to The New York Times Co.," Robinson told reporters, "and we feel it is on a very, very good course."
The Globe, like many newspapers across the country, is struggling with declining revenues and circulation as readers and advertisers move to the Internet and other technologies. Times Co.'s New England Media Group, of which the Globe is the biggest holding, recently said it is offering voluntary buyouts to cut about 125 jobs at the Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette. About 55 jobs, primarily in finance operations, would be outsourced.
A Globe spokesman said yesterday that the paper is in discussions with a firm based in India to take over the work. Dan Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents the finance workers, as well as editorial and advertising employees, said in a statement that Robinson and Times Co. "should be ashamed of selling out US workers."
As its stock has fallen sharply over the past few years, some investors and analysts have suggested Times Co. sell the Globe. Some analysts also have suggested that Times Co. use the proceeds of a sale to buy back stock and help take the company private to protect its newspapers from the cost cutting pressures of Wall Street.
Robinson said, however, that the company has "no intention" of taking itself private. "We've benefited from being a public company and having access to the capital markets," she said.
Members of the Sulzberger family own about 20 percent of the shares outstanding. But they control the company through a dual-class stock structure that gives the family nearly all the voting shares and the power to elect 70 percent of the directors. Unhappy investors have criticized the structure, which they charge has led to a lack of accountability to shareholders by Times Co. management and poor performance.
Robinson, chief executive of Times Co. since the end of 2004, spoke at the new InterContinental Hotel downtown. Robinson acknowledged that newspapers are facing the most difficult period in their historys they navigate rapidly changing technologies, tastes, and competition, including "college students reinventing the Web in their dorm rooms."
Ultimately, she said, success will depend on maintaining long established traditions of quality journalism at the Globe and Times Co. To emphasize Times Co.'s commitment to the Globe as well as the Globe's role in Boston, several time she repeated that it is "our Globe" and "your Globe."
"In this way," she said, "we can also ensure our Boston Globe and your Boston Globe continues to offer the same vigorous reporting, depth of knowledge, and thoughtful analysis that you want and have come to expect."
Article by Robert Gavin
Friday, January 19, 2007