Another round of painful cost-cutting is around at Boston's two major daily newspapers, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald, with the management asking the Boston Globe unions to allow an across-the-board 10-per cent pay cut, while the newspaper tries to consolidate its printing plants.
The Boston Herald website quoted Dan Totten, president of the Guild, which is the Boston Globe's largest union as saying, ''The Boston Newspaper Guild has given enough in the name of company equity. Globe and New York Times [NYT] management must now give back.''
The Boston Herald has officially announced plans to outsource its printing operations, and lay-off between 130 to 160 press operators, electricians and other production-related workers. Herald owner and publisher Patrick J Purcell has no plans to retrench newsroom staff, and said that he told union leaders that the job cuts and outsourcing were necessary on account of unreliable print quality at the newspaper's 50-year-old presses, ''that dates back to when Eisenhower was president''.
The actions are tentatively scheduled to start around end September or early October, preceded by three months of negotiations that Purcell said he wants to devote negotiating severance settlements.
Talks are on with News Corp., which owns a plant in Chicopee, where editions of The Wall Street Journal are printed. If all goes well, the plant would manage the printing of the Herald, six days a week. The Herald is also in talks to print the Herald on Fridays at Boston Offset, which owns a plant in Norwood where USA Today is printed, since the Chicopee plant prints the Barron's business publication on Friday night.
The Boston Herals website also quoted Boston Globe executive vice president Al Larkin Jr. as saying that the company has asked for the wage cuts because of declines in advertising revenues.
A timely message from the publisher (Published on the Boston Herald website)
"It's not exactly headline-grabbing news these days that newspapers everywhere are struggling - fighting to keep readers, to keep advertisers and to keep afloat financially.
"The Boston Herald is no exception.
"In 1994 when Rupert Murdoch allowed me to buy the paper from News Corp. [NWS], it truly was the realisation of a lifelong dream. Sure, there are easier ways to make a living and likely much smarter investments. But there is nothing quite like being the steward of a newspaper that can trace its roots back to 1846.
"That is an awesome responsibility. And I have tried to be both good steward and good businessman - to preserve this paper's independent voice and to keep it on a sound financial footing. Those goals - of both editorial and financial independence are, of course, inextricably linked.
"To do that hasn't been easy or inexpensive. Since 1994 I have made more than $51 million in capital and maintenance investments in the paper, designed to improve the product and add to its financial base. No one can afford to stand still in this business and with the addition of Herald Interactive, our Web-based venture, and the acquisition, for a time, of Community Newspaper Co., we did grow.
"But each year the challenges grow greater and the resources we can call upon shrink. Revenues are declining - not just for the Boston Herald, but for most of the nation's major newspapers and the giant corporations that own them. Banks no longer see newspapers as a sound investment, and that in turn makes capital harder to come by, even as our needs grow.
"At the Herald we are struggling to bring you the latest news but with presses that date back to when Eisenhower was president. And age does have its consequences - especially in the fast-paced business of delivering news. While your televisions are delivering programming in high-definition, our aging presses - through no fault of the people who run them - too often deliver muddied images. And that does a disservice not just to our readers and advertisers, but to the photographers and artists whose work deserves better presentation than we are able now to give it.
"We are, in short, caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. But I love this newspaper and this business and this community that we serve, and I'm not giving up on any of it. There are a relative handful of two-newspaper towns left in this country, and I want to make sure Boston continues to be on that too, too short list.
"To do that, we are being forced to make some painful decisions. One of them will be to go out of the printing business. Doing that will mean the loss of anywhere from 136 to 161 jobs here in the building. But it will also save more than 400 jobs - and it will save the Boston Herald as an institution. And that is my goal here.
"Throughout my tenure as publisher and then owner, I have been enormously proud of the role this paper has played - taking tough stands, making the judgment calls and tackling the issues others didn't want to talk about. We've been able to be an independent voice because we are independent - because we don't have to answer to some mega-corporation or to stockholders.
"That's the way I want this paper to always be - strong and feisty, a product we can all be proud to be a part of."
Patrick J. Purcell