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Sulzberger's gambit: what it means for the Globe

According to Fortune's David Leonard, Pinch Sulzberger's decision to appoint two hedge-fund dissidents to the NY Times Company's board was a stroke of genius. If Harbinger and Firebrand had had to fight for their board seats, Leonard reasons, they might have embarrassed Sulzberger and forced the selling of the NYT Co.'s non-core assets, including the Boston Globe and its stake in the Red Sox. (For some reason, Leonard only mentions the Sox, not the Globe.) But because Sulzberger played nice, he looks great and the NYT Co.'s critics are neutralized, at least for a while.

That's one way of looking at it. Of course, you could also say that, by willingly giving representatives of Harbinger and Firebrand seats on the board, Sulzberger just made it all the more likely that the dissident investors will eventually prevail--maybe not this year, or next year, but before too long.

The big question here in Boston is: if this happens, what becomes of the Globe? Bostonians may not like having their paper of record owned by New Yorkers. But with any other owner, the paper's recent attrition would almost certainly have been even more painful. In other words, be careful what you wish for.

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