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Times Co. Backs Off Threat To Close 'Boston Globe'

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Times Co. Backs Off Threat To Close 'Boston Globe'

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Times Co. Backs Off Threat To Close 'Boston Globe'

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

A reprieve today for the Boston Globe. Its owner backed away from a threat to close the money-losing newspaper unless it won at least $20 million in concessions from its unions.

Six unions reached agreements. But as NPR's David Folkenflik reports, there is still one holdout, and it's the largest.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: From the Boston Newspaper Guild's point of view, the heavy in this saga is the storied New York Times Company. Once seen as a savior when it purchased the Globe in 1993, the corporate parent is now reviled by many journalists in Boston. The Globe has won prizes for its reporting, but lost its foreign bureaus, endured many rounds of buyouts, and in recent months, has been facing the prospect of being shuttered.

The Times Company's executives reiterated the threat last night.

Former Boston Globe media critic Mark Jurkowitz says his former colleagues are shell-shocked.

Mr. MARK JURKOWITZ (Former Media Critic, Boston Globe): To watch this kind of an institution really struggling for its life in the hands of out-of-town owners who are now perceived, fairly or unfairly, to be as clearly less interested in the fate of the Boston Globe than they are of The New York Times newspaper itself, it's really a stunning development.

FOLKENFLIK: But the Globe is on track to lose $85 million this year, and the Times Company is playing a weak hand.

Ken Doctor is a media analyst for the consulting company, Outsell.

Mr. KEN DOCTOR (Media Analyst, Outsell): What's mainly going on in Boston is what's going on all across the country, and you can see a few different strategies in place. But everybody is feeling the same pain. Advertising is down about 25 percent, one out of every $4, at just about every newspaper company.

FOLKENFLIK: The Boston Newspaper Guild represents 1,000 Globe employees and offered givebacks worth the $10 million demanded of it by the company. But the guild refused to relinquish job guarantees given to those guild members who were already working for the paper when it was bought by the Times Company.

On Sunday, the company rejected the guild's offer. But today, company officials say they will find other legal ways to save money and restructure the staff, and they say they have no current intention of shutting down the paper.

David Folkenflik, NPR News.

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