‘BostonNOW’ Folds, Victim of Iceland’s Economic Woes

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By: E&P Staff

In another sign of the globalization of free newspapers, BostonNOW published its last issue Monday, saying the “healthy, growing 119,000-circulation daily” was a victim of economic conditions in Iceland.

“The death of any newspaper is a sad thing,” a story on BostonNOW’s Web site quoted its CEO, Russel Pergament, as saying, “but the death of a vibrant, flourishing newspaper because of economic turmoil thousands of miles away is beyond sad and is something we never anticipated and for which we were totally unprepared.”

BostonNOW’s primary investors, Baugur Group of Iceland, had previously announced plans to sell its media properties, including the Boston commuter daily.

Baugur Group has been hurt by sky-rocketing interest rates, which reached 15.5% last week, inflation that’s measured at 8.7%, and the decline of the Icelandic currency, the krona, which is down 20% against the dollar since the beginning of the year.

“Our overseas investors are honorable people who have endeavored to fulfill all obligations to this newspaper,” Pergament said, “but the tumult in foreign credit markets has forced a change in our original understanding and their focus now appears to be primarily upon their core retail holdings. North American media is not even a distant second.”

BostonNOW would have turned one year old on Thursday.

The paper was on plan to turn profits in its third year, just as the business plan called for, said Publisher Mike Schroeder, who called the decision to fold the paper “deeply troubling.”

BostonNOW employed 52 people full-time.

“Management’s primary concern right now is to help its suddenly displaced employees, who from scratch have created one of the most respected new dailies in the USA, find good newspaper and media work as soon as possible,” the Web site story said. It said it was arranging interviews with other Boston-area media companies.

BostonNOW competed with Boston Metro, another commuter paper published by a foreign company, Luxembourg-based Metro International ,that has talked of exiting the U.S. market. Metro led BostonNOW in the market, distributing 170,000 copies daily.

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