Newspaper Roundup: Boston Globe; Palm Beach Post; Detroit Buyouts; Default Chart

Boston Globe Sale?: Speculation about the Boston Globe’s future as a New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) asset is about as persistent as YHOO-MSFT rumors. The latest from The Phoenix is a report that NYTCo chairman Arthur Sulzberger was asked at a staff town hall meeting if the paper is on the block. His reply, according to the paper’s source: “”As you can imagine, we can’t get into that whole thing…. We can’t go down that road. That’s why CEOs go to jail…. We do face a raft of challenging issues. That’s the hand we were dealt.” The focus should be on fixing the situation, not “muddying the waters.” Meanwhile, the paper wants a 10 percent pay cut from the Newspaper Guild and competitor Boston Herald is laying off 130-160 employees. More newspaper news after the jump.

*Palm* Beach Newspapers: The Cox Enterprises-owned publisher of the Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Beach Post and several other Florida papers plans to slash 300 jobs out of a total of 1,350 posts across its properties including about 130 newsroom jobs. The Post‘s limited coverage is here; More details from E&P.

Detroit Media Partnership: The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News, governed by a Joint Operating Agreement, announced voluntary buyouts in hopes of reducing staff by up to 7 percent, or 150 positions. Free Press Publisher Dave Hunke said the move was being made in light of bad business conditions. The program, which is open to those 45 and older with at least 10-years experience will offer two weeks of severance pay for every year worked. Buyouts have become a common prelude to layoffs, as publishers often haven’t found enough volunteers. More at the Free Press.

Default Watch: Alan Mutter put together a chart showing the major publishers and their varying degrees of default likelihood, based on ratings from Moody’s. In worst shape is Journal Register (OTCBB: JRCO), which has a 72 percent chance of being in default. As he notes here, default can mean two different things. Either the company can be in violation of some financial convenent (e.g., not maintaining a proper leverage ratio), or it can be in the more severe hard default, which basically means bankruptcy. The highest rated “paper”: Washington Post, though mainly that’s because the company is really a solid education company (Kaplan) that also owns a struggling newspaper.