Afterward, one staffer grudgingly acknowledged that a non-sale just might be a best-case scenario. "The approach of the Times Co. in its initial 'negotiating' with the Boston Newspaper Guild [the paper's largest union] can only be described as clueless bullying," he said. "That said, remaining a part of the Times Co. could be the best path if the Times Co. is willing and able to support good, tough, and sometimes expensive journalism — and if it decides to invest in the Globe's efforts to deliver the news on a new platform."
A second staffer, meanwhile, was far more enthusiastic. "I have always thought of the New York Times as the cathedral of journalism — the setter of the trends and the tenets," said this individual, "and working here at the Globe was that much more exciting because it was owned by the Times. I don't harbor any ill feelings toward the Times Co. for trying to maintain its journalistic operation in the face of a huge economic crisis."
The passage of time probably accounts for this positivism — along with the fact that, as the Globe itself has reported, Platinum Equity has made deep staffing cuts as owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune. What's more, some employees are keenly aware that local ownership wouldn't be a panacea for the Globe's woes. ("The economics of the Globe don't change just because somebody who's more emotionally invested in its success owns us," notes a fourth staffer. "As a matter of fact, it might get worse. The Times Co. has some money-earning properties, and access to capital markets; but if we're purchased by a team of local wealthy people, we're going to live and die on our own.")
Granted, Sulzberger and Robinson's comments about keeping the Globe could be pure salesmanship, aimed at eking out better offers from prospective buyers. Still, given the upcoming renegotiation of the Boston Newspaper Guild's contract in late 2010, this apparent lack of employee animus could make the option more attractive.
No, you shut up
Mark your calendars, right-wing-media fans! Bill O'Reilly — the spin-eschewing, loofah-sponge-wielding, "Shut up!"–shouting host of Fox News's TheO'Reilly Factor — is visiting Boston University on October 23, during the College of Communication (COM) alumni-weekend festivities. He'll rap about the future of news with Bill Wheatley, formerly the executive vice-president of NBC News. (O'Reilly and Wheatley are both COM alums.)
That's an . . . interesting choice, COM dean Tom Fiedler. Why O'Reilly, exactly?
"He's been a very strong supporter of the college, and has very quietly provided a lot of financial support for student aid," Fiedler tells the Phoenix. "I understand that there are a lot of people who find what Bill O'Reilly does to be offensive, but he's also got the most-watched show on television."
The plan, Fiedler adds, is for Wheatley to conduct "a Charlie Rose kind of interview. This is not a forum for Bill O'Reilly, or a ceremony to honor Bill O'Reilly — although I hasten to note that he's previously been named a distinguished COM alumni. Is there a different person behind the television persona? We'll see."
As of last week, according to Fiedler, the 8000 invitations e-mailed to publicize O'Reilly's appearance had elicited only 20 negative replies. Maybe the furor is yet to come — or maybe, what with the insane stylings of Glenn Beck et al., nowadays, O'Reilly's shtick actually seems . . . tame.
To read the "Don't Quote Me" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/medialog. Adam Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.