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Bay Windows and South End News up for sale

Co-publisher Sue O'Connell reports that after 18 years she and Jeff Coakley are leaving the newspaper business, and are looking for somebody - or somebodies - to take over the two newspapers.

The business of local news has changed in the two decades we’ve owned both papers. But the news and its importance to the community has not. That is why we are inviting community leaders, business owners, nonprofits, educational institutions and others to consider purchasing Bay Windows and South End News, either separately or together. We are committed to thinking creatively and working with potential buyers to provide an equitable path to ownership.

Models to consider including nonprofit conversion, government support, a public and/or digital media merger, and community ownership.

She adds:

We can promise you three things: It will take a lot of work to make it work. You will exercise great influence in the South End and the state’s LGBTQ community. And you will have fun.

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Comments

I wonder if the Herald should buy them and make Howie Carr the lead editor troll>

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Voting closed 9

Maybe Linda Pizzuti is bored and needs a side project, it could be a digital only space under the Boston Globe umbrella.

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Voting closed 13

But like Sue says, it will take considerable work.

Setting aside the fun of running news outlets and the satisfaction of just telling people the news and being a unique part of your community, there's the financial side of it all.

To start, there's a value in niche publications, which is what Bay Windows is: It's possibly as close as we get to a "paper of record" for the Boston area's LGBTQ community, and that's a large enough community to support an ad-based model.

South End News? There's a value to a news source that covers a well off neighborhood like the South End. Look at David Jacobs' Boston Guardian (which would still be the Boston Courant, except for that lawsuit), which makes money hand over fist just in print real-estate ads (which basically led to the lawsuit, after Jacobs hired somebody as a VP whose job included setting up a Web site, which Jacobs then canceled).

The South End obviously has a lot of well-to-do, locally focused residents.

And that's where some of the hard work begins. Both papers would need a fair amount of work to come into the 21st century - especially the South End News, whose Web site is basically just reprinting articles from the newspaper in a circa-2005 design (with some stuff on the home page that dates to December). Its Facebook page was last updated in December (with a link to a UHub story). The Twitter feed is mostly just retweets of promos for O'Connell's NBC Boston interviews.

But, that's also where the fun begins (well, at least for me; but no, I'm not bidding on the papers). You can create a good, informative neighborhood news site online - there's a trade association of such sites across the country (full disclosure: I'm a member of that group).

Marry the traditional journalism stuff print papers do with 21st-century online reporting (why are there a gazillion cruisers and ambulances on my street right now?) and feature stuff in a well off community and you could have a financial winner.

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Voting closed 42

The Bulletins, etc...

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If the price is right I'm sure it will sell.

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I think your analysis is spot on. The Boston Sun and Courant have covered SE news much better than the "SE News" has for the past 5 years or more. Both in print and online.

I don't know the reasons behind it, but the SE News hasn't been worth the 5 min it takes to skim for a long time.

Sad but true. I wish the owners luck.

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Voting closed 15

I think Bay Windows could be successful with a more aggressive marketing plan.

I don't think it has much cache among younger readers but those over 30 in the LGBTQ community and many others recognize the name and brand. With more targeted marketing and a better digital presence I think they could turn a decent profit based off of ads focused on middle aged gay people. So much of gay culture is focused on nightlife and their key competition seems to do a decent job of going in that direction... If Bay Windows doubles down on things more boring gay people are interested in they could do well. They already have a history of having a diverse readership that extends into non LGBTQ spaces and households. They just need to get in front of more people more often.

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you never hide your misogyny and racism--right out front. I'd guess she accomplishes more in a day then you have in your life.

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you never hide your misogyny and racism

What in the hell are you talking about?

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Voting closed 16

These newspapers hopefully will keep going to keep exposing the fact that the out-of-control drug market has turned the neighborhoods they cover into a real life hell.

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