Press Herald sale appears closer- UPDATED


After months and months of trying to put together a deal (and after years of preparation on the part of the Blethens), it appears that Richard Connor, the union-busting Bangor native who runs the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader newspaper in Pennsylvania, may be close to actually getting ink on paper to buy the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Central Maine Morning Sentinel, the Kennebec Journal, and associated Web sites and - most importantly - about $30 million in real estate.

Today's Portland Press Herald includes an article with some more details on the deal between Connor and the Portland Newspaper Guild, the paper's largest union, representing about 350 employees. The union is expected to vote on it next Friday.

What is absolutely clear in the article are tidbits that have been mentioned and hinted at for months - both union and non-union employees will be facing "significant layoffs" after the sale (today's article makes no mention of the figure of 10 percent of all staff that has been murmured about for weeks now), and a 10-percent cut in union wages.

What remains to be seen now are whether the union members approve of the deal, which will preserve at least some union jobs (rather than cause a showdown that Connor would win by breaking the union), and whether Connor is - this time - telling the truth about being close to raising the money needed to do the deal.

It's certain, though, that the Press Herald will be a shadow of its current shadow of its former self. How meaningful that shadow is depends on who gets to plan the future.


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