This is the end of an era for the Boston Herald after 24 years of local ownership.
Digital First Media completed the acquisition of the Herald today after beating out GateHouse Media in a spirited auction last month, with a bid valued at nearly $12 million. Pat Purcell tried to keep Boston a two newspaper town. But he faced another year of losses amid declining ad sales and circulation, and pushed the Herald into bankruptcy in December to make it easier to sell.
Digital First pledged to hire 175 employees, compared with 240 in December. Some left on their own accord. Others found out they would be gone when they didn’t receive a job offer. Herald editor Joe Sciacca will remain, though editorial page editor Rachelle Cohen penned a farewell column. Kevin Corrado, publisher of Digital First’s dailie s in Lowell and Fitchburg, will take over Purcell’s role as publisher.
Employees are bracing for more cuts. Union members in the newsroom and ad departments approved a new contract last week that protects their pay levels, but allows for outsourcing that could eliminate more jobs. Digital First is squeezing the Herald offices onto one floor at 451 D St. in South Boston, down from two. And it just ended the Herald’s printing contract with the Globe, and will instead rely on GateHouse’s presses in Providence.
The Herald will likely look different. Expect big changes to the website. Perhaps most importantly, the people ultimately calling the shots will no longer be in Boston. Digital First, which has been slashing jobs elsewhere, may be based in Denver. But its budget is controlled by Alden Global Capital , in New York. Invariably, the hedge fund firm won’t be as patient as Purcell was to achieve a return on its investment.