- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cliffhanger has turned into a melodrama between parent company and billion-dollar baby.

Even as the New York Times mulls over the prospect of shuttering the Boston Globe over unresolved union disputes and financial losses, the Beantown paper continues to provide dramatic updates on its own situation.

On Friday, the Globe supplied yet another chapter in a volatile family squabble that has continued for months. It reported that three Boston businessmen - “a Boston Celtics owner, a former advertising mogul and a member of the family that ran the Globe for generations” - were waiting in the wings to bid on the 137-year-old paper.

The trio consists of Stephen Pagliuca, a private-equity executive and Celtics co-owner; Jack Connors, co-founder of a major ad agency; and Stephen Taylor, a former Globe executive and member of the family that originally sold the Globe to the Times for more than $1 billion in 1993.

The Globe did not name its sources for the revelations but hinted that the potential buyers could delay their offers until the ongoing “standoff” between the papers has waned.

There may be a wait. The situation is complicated with potshots and countervolleys.

After two months of public drama between the Times and the Globe, members of the Boston Newspaper Guild voted Monday to turn down the Times’ demands that the union come up with millions of dollars in concessions - or risk the shuttering of the paper.

Management immediately responded by making a 23 percent wage reduction for union members, who have already taken their grievances to the National Labor Relations Board and sent a personal letter to Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., asking him for “leadership.” He responded with a terse e-mail.

Analysts have repeatedly noted the irony that the traditionally progressive Times was playing the role of union buster, even as the Gray Lady suffers through its own buyouts, financial woes and a 28 percent drop in advertising revenue.

Globe readers, meanwhile, have displayed a spectrum of emotional reactions to the travails at their hometown paper. They have complained about interference from the Times and local politicians, and have claimed the quality of journalism at the Globe has suffered during the turmoil.

The crosstown rival Boston Herald attacked the Globe Friday, reporting that the cash-strapped Globe dropped $1 million in a splashy print, broadcast and billboard self-promotion campaign.

“We feel like we still need to reach out to new readers for the health of the newspaper,” spokesman Bob Powers told the Herald.

An unnamed New York media buyer called the Globes pricey outreach “ridiculous,” adding, “If you dont have money to spend, if you are taking money away from employees, why are you spending it on ads?”

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