By Christopher B. Daly
So, now we know: the new owner of the Boston Globe is John W. Henry II, a Boston-based investor who owns the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool soccer club. Henry (not the legendary “steel-drivin’ man” of the contest against a steam engine) is a son of soybean farmers who dropped out of college and made a fortune in commodity trading and other investments.
In recent years, he turned his interests to owning sports franchises and now, he is taking over ownership of the largest news organization in New England. I have no idea what his intentions are (or how he plans to handle the massive conflict of interest that Globe journalists will suffer when reporting on his other ventures). But I wish him well.
The sale completes a chapter in the long history of the New York Times, which bought the Globe 20 years ago for $1.1 billion — a record in U.S. newspaper sales. The Times owners, primarily the Sulzberger family, were forced to sell the Globe for a mere $70 million in cash (which is the kind of money that guys like John Henry spend on a house or two). In other words, the stewards of the most important journalistic institution in America just took a bath of more than $1 billion, which they could scarcely afford to lose. I don’t know how Arthur Sulzberger Jr. remains on speaking terms with his cousins.