NYT's Sulzberger To Globe Staff: 'Our Hand Is Not Being Forced'

Last spring, the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) threatened to shut down the Boston Globe unless unions agreed to $20 million in cuts. Despite pleas to get involved as the Newspaper Guild struggled with its response — eventually resolved — NYC Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and CEO Janet Robinson stayed away. Today the two finally met with roughly 200 Globe staffers for an hour but against a very different backdrop as banker Goldman Sachs tries to sell the paper and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. It was their first such meeting in more than a year.

During the “largely civil” meeting, the description from the paper’s own account, Sulzberger and Robinson said the combination of pay cuts and price increases put the paper on the route to profitability — and changed the game.

Sulzberger: “Our hand is not being forced. We are not in a situation where we must absolutely sell the Globe or the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for the good of the company.” Message to prospective buyers: we can walk away if the offer isn’t good enough. The buyers reported to have made it to the on-site-visit stage are cost-slashing PE firm Platinum Equity and a local group led by former Globe exec Steve Taylor. According to the Globe, Sulzberger said the decision would be based on a mix of price and impact on the paper’s journalism, its readers, and the community.

Charging for access?: On another front, Globe Publisher Steve Ainsley said his team has yet to decide about charging for online access but hopes to have a strategy in place by the end of the year. Scenarios include the usual suspects.