Digital First Media Completes 'Boston Herald' Acquisition, Cuts Expected

Just months after it seemed nearly certain Gatehouse Media would acquire the Boston Herald, the Boston Herald was officially bought by Digital First Media earlier this week.

Founded in 1846 and last acquired by Pat Purcell in 1994, 10 years after he became publisher of the paper, the Herald filed for bankruptcy late last year and was seeking a buyer to bail out its financial woes.

According to The Boston GlobeDigital First Media beat out GateHouse Media with a bid in a bankruptcy auction reaching nearly $12 million.

In the deal, Digital First Media executive Kevin Corrado will replace Purcell as publisher, while Herald editor Joe Sciacca will continue to oversee the newsroom.

Digital First Media, which New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital owns a majority stake in, and its subsidiary Media News Group, Inc. own a slew of local and regional papers across the country, including the Denver Post, where 30 staff were recently cut. The company is known for slimming the newsroom staffs under its control.

In its acquisition of the Herald, Digital First promised to keep 175 jobs out of the 240 staffers still employed there in December. Some workers have since learned they would be cut, while others left on their own. Further cuts to the staff are expected, as are changes to pension benefits.

The Globe reports union members approved a new two-year contract to stabilize pay levels, however, outsourcing is still a possibility.

In addition to current and potential shakeups at the newspaper, the Herald will begin printing at the GateHouse Media owned Providence Journal press. Recently, The Boston Globe, which had been printing the Herald, has looked to ramp up its third-party printing output.

The loss of the Herald presents a setback, as Vinay Mehra, president of Boston Globe Media, states in the Boston Business Journal: "At present, we are unable to offer a competitive bid for that business."

Digital First is also expected to revamp the Herald’s website. This comes at a time when the paper’s weekday circulation has dropped faster than at any other point during the prior two years.

Currently, the Boston Herald has a daily circulation of 45,000 print sales, of which two-thirds are single-copy purchases.

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