Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Could the sale of the Globe have been prevented? That sobbing sound you hear is from William and Benjamin Taylor, the last two publishers from the Boston Globe's former ruling family, who this week must be asking themselves, "Why didn't we think of that?"

Freedom Communications, parent company of the Orange County Register, has found a way to keep the paper within the Hoiles family and simultaneously pay off what the New York Times describes as "dissident family members."

Freedom owns 28 daily newspapers and eight TV stations, which these days qualifies as small potatoes. So this is a huge victory for independent media.

Among the rejected suitors are Gannett and MediaNews, whose chief executive, Dean Singleton, is pissed, according to both the Times and this report in the Wall Street Journal.

I have no idea whether the Taylors could have pulled off a deal like this rather than selling the Globe to the New York Times Company for $1.1 billion in 1993. The times and circumstances were different, and perhaps there was no way of preventing the sell-off.

But even though the Times Company has been a reasonably good steward of the Globe (from a reader's perspective; certainly many employees feel differently), the psychological impact continues to loom large.

Boston today is largely a franchise town, as Globe columnists such as Joan Vennochi bitterly lament from time to time. Nothing has contributed to that status more than the transfer of New England's dominant media organization to out-of-town ownership.

We interrupt this home run to bring you another commercial. I missed Manny Ramirez's home run yesterday -- some of us have to work, you know -- but it looks like Fox's commercials-up-to-the-last-possible-second policy claimed a victim: the viewers.

The Boston Herald has the story.

Please come to Amherst. I'll be reading from my book, Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes, tomorrow from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the UMass Amherst Campus Center, Room 904-08.

If you're going to be in the neighborhood, come on down.

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