Purcell: No Plans to Sell ‘Boston Herald,’ but $7M Must Be Cut

By: E&P Staff

Boston Herald Publisher Patrick J. Purcell says he has no plans to sell the paper, although he is still looking for ways to slash $7 million in costs as the end of the paper’s fiscal year approaches in June.

After meeting with the newspaper?s labor unions on Thursday, he told The Boston Globe that he wants to reach agreement with the unions on “changes in the way we do things,” calling this “a frank and open discussion of the overall situation of the Herald. We’ve identified ways in which we can do things more efficiently and effectively and less costly.” He added, “You never feel good about doing what we’re doing, but I think everybody is resigned to the situation.”

Facing advertising and circulation shortfalls, Purcell had previously said options included layoffs, reducing the size of the paper, narrowing the paper?s coverage area, and laying off workers.

According to a story in the herald, Purcell plans to sit down with leaders of each of the paper’s 11 unions to discuss specific plans for cost reductions, with some staff reductions across the board (including both buyouts and job cuts). ?If we do this and get some of these limits in place, we’ll get ourselves into good shape for the foreseeable future,” Purcell told the Herald.

The Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston, which represents about 280 Herald editorial and commercial employees, said in a statement: “The Guild agreed in principle to work with the company to help achieve the economies needed to keep Boston a two-newspaper town. Nothing specific was unveiled. Details of the Herald’s needs will be presented to us in upcoming bargaining meetings with all of the individual unions in the next few days.”

The Guild has been operating without a contract since November 2003.

According to the Globe, to find what Purcell called “efficiencies across the company,” the publisher hired two consulting firms: Dario Designs, to evaluate the Herald’s physical plant, and Jack Ryan & Associates, to look at efficiency and manpower.

Purcell told the Herald that circulation had picked up slightly in the latest six-month period.

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