Would Rupert Murdoch buy the Boston Globe?
The News Corp. CEO has been fingered by several media watchers, including the Globe's lead columnist, as a likely candidate to purchase the broadsheet that the New York Times Company put on the block earlier this week.
"Who knows, maybe Sir Rupert will throw his hat in the ring," the Globe's star columnist Kevin Cullen wrote. "Stranger things have happened."
Also read: N.Y. Times Co. to Sell Boston Globe
"Many moons ago, when my hair was still black and Ronald Reagan was still president," Cullen noted, "Rupert Murdoch saved the Boston Herald by buying it."
Indeed, in 1982 Murdoch saved the Herald, a tabloid long considered the Globe's No. 1 competitor — only to sell it in 1994 to clear the way for the purchase of a Fox News subsidiary in the city. The Federal Communications Commission bars publishers from owning both newspapers and television outlets in the same city without specific waivers.
Now Murdoch is free to make some new purchases as he spins off his newspaper and publishing holdings into a separate company, tentatively dubbed the New News Corp., from his entertainment holdings.
New News Corp. will comprise the Wall Street Journal, the Dow Jones news-wire, HarperCollins, the New York Post and his U.K. newspaper assets, such as the Times of London and the Sun tabloid.
And Murdoch is on the march again. He has reportedly been a prominent suitor for the Tribune Company's newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, which may go up for sale in coming months as the company stabilizes after a nearly four-year Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
He also could try to put the Globe in his pocket. Michael Wolff, a Murdoch biographer and well-known media columnist for the Guardian and USA Today, told the Herald that Murdoch would likely seek out the Boston mainstay.
“He is — first, last and always — a newspaper publisher,” Wolff said. “I’m sure he will take a look at the Globe.”
Factoring into the equation is that Murdoch has long locked horns with the New York Times, in whose market he launched competitive additions to the Wall Street Journal, aimed at dethroning the Gray Lady. The Journal's Greater New York section was widely considered a stab at the Times' then-ailing local news coverage in New York City.
Two News Corp. spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but tensions are high in the Globe newsroom since the paper went up for sale, employees told TheWrap. Newly named editor Brian McGrory held town-hall style meetings with each section of the paper on Thursday.
Nearly 60 staffers faced layoffs late last year, and many reporters and editors fear a sale could lead to another serious downsizing as the paper struggles to attract subscribers to its paywalled website.