Friday, January 1, 2016

For Auld Lang Syne

Someone asked the question “Why am I holding on to this stuff?”

"A housing boom claims warehouse full of home trappings" by Tim Logan Globe Staff  December 14, 2015

Metropolitan Storage is closing, to be converted into dorms by its owner, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And its renters are making their last pilgrimages to the corner of Mass. Ave. and Vassar Street to empty their units and take stock of what’s inside.

The closing of Metropolitan Storage is a sign of the times in booming Cambridge, where housing is in short supply and MIT is under pressure to add more for students. It’s also the end of an era; the place opened in 1894, was fully built out by 1912, and its nearly 1,500 units — dark cells with steel doors that bring to mind an old prison — have been in use ever since.

Many store the ordinary collections of life. Renters use them for stuff they can’t squeeze into small apartments. MIT students stash belongings over the summer. A few homeless people rent units to keep their possessions safe and dry.

Some are letting go of more than just a closet as they move out. Artist Linda DeHart has used Metropolitan to store large pieces of wood left over from old projects, the sort of things she’d hoped would eventually turn into new projects she hadn’t yet dreamed up.

Now she’s 76, and the time for new projects is growing shorter. So she’s giving those pieces to younger artists, in the hope that they’ll make something with them instead. As she and two friends loaded a few of her smaller items into a van on recent morning, she reflected on what she’s letting go, and why.

“I’m an artist, a creative person. A creative person sees the potential in anything,” DeHart said. “But why am I holding on to this stuff?”


"Globe aims to fix delivery problems" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  December 31, 2015

Boston Globe executives said Wednesday that they are working to resolve the delivery problems that have resulted in frustrated readers receiving late papers — or none at all — for three days this week.

The problems stem from switching Monday to a new delivery company. Globe chief executive Mike Sheehan said the change was made to improve deliveries for all customers, but acknowledged the new service got off to a rocky start.

The missing papers prompted an outcry from readers, who vented on social media and overwhelmed the Globe’s phone system with complaints.

“We apologize for the disruption,’’ Sheehan said in an interview. “We know that people depend on us every day.”


The new delivery vendor, ACI Media Group, is based in Long Beach, Calif., and has been in the business for 50 years. It delivers such newspapers as the Los Angeles Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Sheehan said the Globe regrets the frustration suffered by loyal readers who encountered busy signals or long waits when they called to report delivery problems. The paper has added staff to handle the phone calls from customers and pledged to increase phone-line capacity over the next two days.

In a note to readers posted on Wednesday, the newspaper said it would offer full refunds to customers for papers that went undelivered. It also was updating links on the web site to assist with customer service, executives said.

The Globe’s online news site has not been affected by the delivery lapse this week. But that was little solace to many readers who prefer the newsprint version of the paper.

I haven't notice any problems out here, and I'm never upset when there isn't a Globe. What I do is trace back the deliverer's route as I head across town to his first stop. If they don't have one, oh well.

The delivery problems came on a holiday week, and were a stark reminder of readers’ expectation of reliable delivery, whatever the season or delivery method. The process has evolved over the years from one that relied on bicycle-riding paper boys to outside vendors that hire hundreds of part-time, independent drivers.

Those were the days when I delivered (and may have to do it again).

ACI Media has been building a network of 600 contractors in Massachusetts and verifying routes to bring the Globe to the doorsteps of 115,000 customers on weekdays, and more than 205,000 on Sundays. Some drivers are joining from the prior vendor.

The Globe also sells tens of thousands of additional papers at newsstands every day, and recently invested in a new printing plant in Taunton.

Sheehan said the Globe anticipated some disruption with the switch, and is seeking to minimize the pain of the change.

“It’s a change we had to make,’’ he said. But, “in the days ahead, we’ll be getting it to the premium level of service that our subscribers expect.”

This is COMIC!


According to the letters, the readership sees cost-cutting as the main culprit -- after years and years of nary a glitch -- and I'm with each and every one of them!

Well, if the Globe doesn't come I'll need a new paper to read:

"Buyer of Las Vegas newspaper a mystery" by Ravi Somaiya New York Times  December 17, 2015

NEW YORK — Six days after the deal closed, nobody seems to know for sure who bought The Las Vegas Review-Journal for $140 million in cash. But everyone is coalescing around the same theory.

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate and Republican political benefactor, has been widely rumored to be behind the News and Media Capital Group, the newly formed company that officially bought the paper.

On Wednesday, Fortune magazine, citing “multiple sources familiar with the situation,” said it had confirmed that the new owner was Adelson. Shortly afterward, CNN Money reported the details of an interview with Adelson, in which he said he had “no personal interest in The Review-Journal” — a statement that appeared to leave plenty of wiggle room for other forms of ownership. Jon Ralston, the well-connected Nevada political journalist, was told something similar, he said on Twitter.

Those who might know for sure — the publisher of the paper, the executives who sold or run it, and the man who is the sole public face of the company, a Connecticut newspaperman named Michael E. Schroeder — are either not returning messages, have their phones switched off, or refuse to comment. Adelson was not available for comment.

Even more mysterious, perhaps, is the need for such secrecy....


"Adelson family confirms ownership of Las Vegas newspaper" by Sally Ho and Kimberly Pierceall Associated Press  December 18, 2015

LAS VEGAS — The family of billionaire casino mogul and GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson confirmed in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that they are the new owners of Nevada’s largest newspaper, ending a week of speculation and demands by staff, media watchdogs, and politicians to know the identity of the buyer.

The statement printed on page 2 of Thursday’s edition follows the announcement last week that the paper was sold for a second time this year to an unidentified buyer and at a markup, capturing the attention of the media industry and political leaders and leading to scrutiny about a lack of transparency.

The Adelsons say they held back because they didn’t want an announcement to distract from Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate held at the Venetian, the casino-hotel on the Las Vegas Strip that is part of Adelson’s empire. Adelson, a major GOP donor, said at the debate that he had ‘‘no personal interest’’ in owning the paper.

The timing of the sale and the purchase price had pundits theorizing that Adelson, a Boston native, bought the largest newspaper in a swing state to influence the presidential election.

Nevada is fourth in the primary process, with balloting in February. In the 2012 campaign, the Adelson family spent more than any other donor — about $90 million.

Brian Greenspun, publisher of the rival Las Vegas Sun, said he welcomes the Adelson family to the journalism neighborhood and any success under the new ownership would be good for them both....


RelatedEditor of Las Vegas newspaper quits after Sheldon Adelson takes over


"Role of GateHouse and deep-pocketed investors emerges in sale of Las Vegas paper" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  December 24, 2015

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson grabbed all the attention when he stepped forward last week to confirm that he was the mystery buyer of Nevada’s largest newspaper.

But behind the scenes was another billionaire, Wesley Edens, whose New York investment firm manages the newspaper chain that sold the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Fortress Investment Group LLC, where Edens is a founder and co-chairman, has been the engine behind GateHouse Media Inc. and its hundreds of millions of dollars in newspaper buyouts since 2006. Fortress operates the company through a management agreement, and Edens is a large stockholder.

In Massachusetts, GateHouse is known as the conglomerate that has vacuumed up most of the region’s local newspapers. Along the way, GateHouse has earned a reputation for layoffs and cost cuts, as it became one of the largest news outlet owners in the industry.


So the company’s purchase in March of the Review-Journal and related holdings seemed routine. But when GateHouse sold the paper just nine months later for $140 million, at a large profit, what happened next was anything but business as usual.

When reports finally emerged that it was Adelson, the Boston-bred owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and a leading donor to Republican candidates, the twists in the story only grew.

The Review-Journal published a story saying that as the sale was being wrapped up, GateHouse management ordered the paper to monitor three Nevada judges, including one presiding over an inflammatory lawsuit against Adelson’s casinos. GateHouse had earlier tried to get one of its Florida papers to take on the project, the story said.

The Review-Journal never published a story on the judges. But a piece mentioning the judge in the Adelson case turned up in a small New Britain, Conn., newspaper, whose publisher, Michael Shroeder, was introduced to the Review-Journal staff as the new “manager” of the company.

“Part of what’s bizarre in the whole situation is there seems to be quite a lot of ambiguity about who’s in charge,’’ said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism research center in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Indeed, as part of the sale, GateHouse was hired to continue operating the Review-Journal, in an uncommon arrangement with a new owner.

Fortress is lately having some troubles of its own. The $74 billion manager of private equity and hedge funds is winding down its flagship hedge fund, after losses this year and redemptions by its investors.

But Edens’s other investments are doing well. His firm’s holdings in subprime lending companies have seen big gains. The Wall Street Journal in August dubbed Edens, 53, “the new king of subprime lending.”


He and another New York investment executive bought the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team in 2014 and this summer won $250 million in public financing from the state of Wisconsin to help finance their new stadium, after threatening to move the team out of state.

Edens and his Bucks partner, Marc Lasry, are both large Democratic donors. But they won Republican governor Scott Walker’s support for the controversial bill a month after he said he was running for president. A minority owner of the Bucks, Jon Hammes, has been a major Walker fund-raiser.

Enjoying the $how?

Edens’s GateHouse stake also has done well — the second time around.

Fortress first took GateHouse public back in 2006, watched its stock slump until it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2008, and it took the company through bankruptcy in 2013, with $1.2 billion in debt on the books.

The newspaper group emerged quickly from Chapter 11, with roughly the same owners and a new corporate name: New Media Investment Group. In a complex series of transactions, the old debt was converted to equity, and a Fortress entity that held 52 percent of the debt received equity in the reorganized media company, distributing it to its own stockholders last year.

The stock is up 50 percent since it was “spun out” and began trading in February, 2014. And the acquisitions have continued apace. New Media now owns the Providence Journal, the Columbus Dispatch, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and scores of other papers.

“I’ve seen no indication that their interest in newspapers is civic-minded,’’ said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. “It’s profit-seeking.”


Also seeSavaging a newspaper? In N.H., it’s a primary tradition 

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind.... 

I need to find a new paper (blog editor crying ocean of tears)!!