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Negotiations continue Thursday between the Boston Newspaper Guild and the owner of the Boston Globe, The New York Times Co. But not in person. The two sides are communicating by e-mail and phone until their next scheduled face-to-face talks next Monday.
In the meantime, speculation also continues regarding the possible sale of the newspaper. The Globe has reported that three local businessmen are considering making a bid, either separately or together. The three men all have deep roots in the local area. Jack Connors Jr. is a retired ad executive, civic philanthropist Stephen Taylor is a member of the family who used to own the Boston Globe, and Stephen Pagliuca is a primary owner of the Boston Celtics.
Jack Connors’ interest in owning the paper could spring from his love for the city. He was born to Irish immigrants in Roslindale. After graduating from Boston College, he founded what became the city’s most successful advertising agency — Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopoulos Inc. He stepped down in 2003 and now oversees his family foundation, which is believed to be worth about $500 million.
Three years ago, Connors made an offer to buy the paper with retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch. It was rebuffed by The New York Times. Since then, Welch has moved out of town. But Connors remains very active in the community. He’s raised millions of dollars to rebuild Catholic schools. He’s helped reform health care law as Chairman of Partners HealthCare at a time when it grew to become the state’s largest employer. Connors spearheaded the fundraising to build Camp Harbor View, a summer day camp in Boston Harbor for inner-city kids.
Jerry Steimel, executive vice president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, which runs the camp, worked closely with Connors and Mayor Tom Menino on its development. "They really shared a vision and they went out there before anything was done, looked at the space and decided they were committed to this and between the two of them they pulled a lot of strings and they twisted arms," he said.
Connors can see the camp from the window of his office on the top floor of the John Hancock Tower. He visits Harbor View weekly during the summer, making personal connections with the kids.
Steimel said Connors never forgets his roots. "I think Jack’s a city kid," he said. "He grew up in the city, he understands the neighborhood, he understands how tough it can be."
Stephen Taylor’s family has been a part of Boston for generations, as the Globe’s owner for more than a century. In 1993, the Taylors sold the paper to the New York Times Co. for $1.1 billion. Taylor was educated at Yale University, where he’s now a lecturer on media economics and financing in journalism. He’s also involved in a seed stage investing company.
Taylor got his newspaper experience at the Globe. He did everything from reporting to layout to business. After the sale of the paper, Taylor was named executive vice president until 2001. But it was as creator of Boston.com that he made the most impact, said his cousin, former Globe publisher Ben Taylor.
"He was very much of an early advocate for the Globe to develop an online internet site and he was a great advocate for it and also kind of pushed us to do it," Taylor said. "As a result, the Globe was out front with Boston.com and ahead of many other newspapers in the country."
Taylor said that if his cousin were to buy the Globe, he would bring new strategic initiatives to the paper, as well as a love of the Boston Globe of old. "You want to have a group of people who have experience in running a newspaper and also who have experience in electronic journalism," he said. "I think Steve brings both of those qualities. He’d be an important part of any group that’s thinking about buying the newspaper."
Like Taylor and Connors, Stephen Pagliuca is also deeply rooted in the Boston area. He was raised in Framingham, where his early love of sports shaped much of his career to come. He played basketball as a freshman at Duke University. Later, he came back to the Boston area to attend Harvard Business School.
Pagliuca, who’s reported to be worth $410 million, is a primary owner of the Boston Celtics. He’s credited with improving the team’s operations. He’s also a managing director at Bain Capital, a private equity firm where he’s been involved in media investments. For the past six years he’s chaired the board of directors of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Marylou Sudders, President of the MSPCC, has worked closely with Pagliuca.
"I think he believes very much Boston needs to have strong news reporting and that he would see this as a community service more so than as a business," said MSPCC President Marylou Sudders, who has worked closely with Pagliuca.
Sudders said he brings his business acumen to the MSPCC and he understands the impact poverty has on children. When Pagliuca bought a stake in the Celtics, she said, he wanted not only to regain the championship banner but also to engage the team in community issues.
Sudders said local ownership is important to Pagliuca."If there's a driver around the Boston Globe, I think it's about having local ownership being a big piece of keeping an important resource in the city and for eastern Massachusetts," she said.
Most of the speculation about possible Globe buyers is centered on locally-connected people. In addition to Connors, Taylor and Pagliuca, other names mentioned include Pat Purcell, who owns the Boston Herald, and the investment company Intercontinental Real Estate.
In the end, though, it comes down to whether the current owner, The New York Times Co., decides to sell the paper.
WBUR's Jess Bidgood contributed to this report.
This program aired on June 18, 2009.
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