By: Bill Kirtz

Tabloid Will Compete and Cooperate With Weeklies

BOSTON – The Boston Herald will both compete and
cooperate with the weekly chain that it recently purchased from
Fidelity, Herald publisher Patrick Purcell said Friday.
Purcell, a former Rupert Murdoch lieutenant, recently signed the
final deal to buy Community Newspaper Co.’s 87 Boston area
weeklies, four dailies, and 14 shoppers. The purchase price is a
reported $150 million.

Interviewed at the New England Press Association convention in
Boston, Purcell voiced no fear about letting his weekly editors
decide on an individual basis whether to run top Herald
columnists. Wouldn’t this tactic cut into the Herald’s
circulation? Purcell answered that readers can already access
Herald writers on the Internet and that in some markets
his metro and his weeklies’ circulation overlap is only 20%.

“We try to make each product as interesting as possible,” he said, and “let the circulation be what it is.” The Herald’s Monday-Friday circulation is 257,761, compared to The Boston Globe’s 464,472. CNC’s circulation totals around 900,000.

Kevin Convey, the Herald’s former managing editor for
features, is CNC’s new editor in chief. He said Friday that the
papers will put hot stories on CNC’s TownOnline Web site and then
update them for weekly publication. Convey said that in some
cases, weekly and Herald reporters would compete on
breaking stories and that in others, they would cooperate.
Details are still to be worked out, he said.

Purcell, who bought the Herald from Murdoch in 1994, hopes
the CNC purchase will give him clout in suburban areas long
dominated by the Globe. Looking south of Boston last year,
he was interested in buying the Quincy Patriot Ledger, the
Brockton Enterprise, and a group of weeklies before owner
James F. Plugh took them off the market.

In other recent competitive moves, the Globe has added a
weekday section for the western suburbs. And last month, The New
York Times Co., which owns the Globe, completed its
purchase of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Bill Kirtz (W.kirtz@neunet.neu.edu) is a journalism professor at Northeastern University.

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Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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