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Bad News At The Times Is Bad News For The Globe

Correction appended — In the latest sign of the troubles besetting the newspaper industry, The New York Times Co., which owns the Boston Globe, continued to hemorrhage money in the first quarter of this year. The grim financial report is putting even more pressure on the Globe's unions to make concessions to save the paper.

The New York Times Co. lost $74 million in the first quarter of this year. That's compared to $335,000 during the same period last year. The problem is ad revenue, which plunged more than 30 percent at the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson said Tuesday in a conference call with investors that ad revenues have fallen more at the Globe than at The New York Times.

"Over the past several years, the Globe has faced very difficult challenges as secular changes, business consolidations and exits from the markets have resulted in significant revenue decline," Robinson said. "Globe management is engaged in serious discussions with the Globe unions."

Earlier this month, The New York Times Co. told the union it would close the paper in May if the unions didn't give up $20 million in concessions. The company is seeking to end lifetime job guarantees, stop retirement contributions and cut paid sick leave, among other things.

After negotiating all day Tuesday, a spokesman for the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Globe's largest union, said that union has told The New York Times Co. and Globe management it "is prepared to offer significant labor cost savings proposals."

Media analyst Rick Edmonds, from the non-profit journalism school the Poynter Institute, says the union should seriously consider the dire financial situation of the Times Co.

"The company overall is barely earning enough money to cover its interest payments and probably can't afford to let nature run its course at the Globe," Edmonds says. "I take what they say about needing to get the expenses down at the Globe very seriously."

The Boston Newspaper Guild and newspaper management will likely continue negotiations on Thursday, in what is a bleak time for the newspaper industry. The New York Times Co. predicts it will continue to bleed money in the next quarter.

Correction: Thirteen unions represent workers at the Boston Globe. An earlier version of this story suggested only one union represents workers at the newspaper.

This program aired on April 22, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Bianca Vázquez Toness Twitter Reporter
Bianca Vázquez Toness was formerly a report for WBUR.

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