While surely not unwelcome, being acquired by a sympathetic billionaire doesn’t necessarily solve all a newspaper’s problems, as a number of big metro dailies have discovered over the last decade.
On Tuesday, The Boston Globe unexpectedly lost its CEO after less than a year on the job, suggesting it isn’t immune to the executive turmoil (and turnover) associated with the industry’s financial woes.
Boston Globe CEO Doug Franklin announced he is stepping down from the top spot at the newspaper in an internal memo to staff on Tuesday morning. In the memo, Franklin indicated that financial strains were the reason for his departure.
He also alluded to disagreements with the newspaper’s publisher and owner, John Henry, the billionaire Boston-area investor who acquired the newspaper from The New York Times Co. in 2013.
Franklin wrote to staffers: “While John Henry and I share similar passion and vision for the Globe, we have our differences [in] how to strategically achieve our financial sustainability. With disappointment, I am resigning from the Globe, effective immediately, and will not be part of your work shaping the Globe’s future.”
Also on Tuesday, Henry told staff in an email that he would be assuming a larger role at the newspaper, where his wife Linda already serves as managing director.
Franklin is the third CEO to resign from The Boston Globe in as many years.
Although no firm numbers are available for the privately held newspaper, his memo suggests it likely still faces the same challenges that prompted the NYTCO to part with the pub for $70 million, two decades after it paid $1.1 billion for it.
In 2006, former GE boss Jack Welch offered to buy The Boston Globe for $600 million, but NYTCO rejected the offer.
Some big changes now underway may help stabilize the bottom line, including the Globe’s relocation from its old headquarters in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood back to downtown Boston. The Globe sold the old offices for an undisclosed sum to an unnamed buyer in July 2016.
The newspaper is also pursuing a relatively pricey online subscription plan, with an introductory price of $15.96 every four weeks for the first year, then $27.72 every four weeks thereafter.
The Globe also got a welcome PR boost from the success of “Spotlight,” the Oscar-winning movie that told the true story of its investigation into a sex abuse cover-up in the Catholic Church.