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Boston Herald Files For Bankruptcy; Company To Be Sold To GateHouse Media

The publisher of the Boston Herald announced Friday that the popular and scrappy tabloid's media company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will be sold to New York-based GateHouse Media.

Herald publisher Patrick Purcell called a mandatory meeting at the daily newspaper's headquarters in Boston's Seaport District to tell employees about the sale late Friday afternoon, its staff wrote in a business story released shortly after the meeting.

"In addition to great news and advertising coverage for our dedicated readers over the years, all I ever wanted to do was keep the Boston Herald alive. And it is with this pending sale that I am able to do that in these difficult newspapering times," Purcell said in a letter to staff, the paper wrote. "I am certain this is the best pathway forward for you and for the newspaper we have nurtured together, in my case, for the last 33 years."

"... all I ever wanted to do was keep the Boston Herald alive. And it is with this pending sale that I am able to do that in these difficult newspapering times."

Boston Herald Publisher Patrick Purcell

Herald staff wrote that its publication had been "hindered like many other newspapers with significant pension and retirement liabilities as well as declining revenue with the onset of digital media and a growing variety of news originators and aggregators." In its heyday in 2000, the newspaper — which was founded more than 170 years ago — had a staff of nearly 900. Today, the Herald said, its manpower has shrunk significantly to 240 employees.

O'Ryan Johnson, a union representative at the Boston Herald, said employees were shocked.

"Pat said we're going to keep 175 out of 228 employees," Johnson told WBUR. "So there are going to be 53 job losses in that group. We don't have any guarantee on the pension or severance for the people who've been here for 20 or 30 years."

According to the paper, Purcell told employees Friday that their responsibilities as a daily news organization would continue regardless of the sale to GateHouse.

"Boston is a better city for the Herald's unique and fearless local reporting. Because of all of you, we are well known for our influential political, community, business and sports coverage across the region and beyond," Purcell said in his letter.

A Herald reporter tweeted that GateHouse had offered about $5 million for the media company.

GateHouse Media is the publisher of a large collection of locally-focused news organizations throughout the U.S., and already operates more than a dozen daily newspapers in Massachusetts. As mandated by court, the Herald said its company will hold an auction to allow others to make competitive offers.

With additional reporting from WBUR's Newscast Unit

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Lisa Creamer Twitter Digital News Editor and Producer
Lisa Creamer is a digital editor and producer at WBUR.

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