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Sen. John Kerry to Hold Hearings on Newspaper Industry.

Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., will hold hearings in Washington, D.C., next week to review the economic problems facing the newspaper industry, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

The hearings will be at the Senate Commerce Committee, and are set to begin April 30. They come at a time when numerous newspapers are in bankruptcy protection or seeking cost-savings, including the Globe which has threatened to close or sell if certain union concessions are not made.

The hearings also come soon after Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., introduced a bill last month that would allow newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits, the Globe reported.

Kerry, chairman of a Commerce subcommittee, "moved to spotlight the financial plight of newspapers after The New York Times Co. threatened earlier this month to shut down The Boston Globe unless its labor unions agree to $20 million in cost concessions, including pay and benefit cuts. The Globe is on track to lose $85 million this year, executives told labor representatives," the story said.

"America's newspapers are struggling to survive -- and while there will be serious consequences in terms of the lives and financial security of the employees involved, including hundreds at the Globe, there will also be serious consequences for our democracy where diversity of opinion and strong debate are paramount," Kerry wrote in a letter sent to union leaders Friday, according to the Globe.

In his letter, addressed to "the Boston Globe family," Kerry voiced his commitment to the industry and to ensuring that the "vital public service newspapers provide does not disappear."

"The increase in media conglomerates has resulted in an increase in agenda-driven reporting and over time, if those of us who value a diversity of opinion and ideas, and are unafraid to be confronted with pointed commentary and analysis, do not act, it is a situation which will only get worse," Kerry wrote according to the paper.

The Globe story noted that Kerry "has received political endorsements over the years from the Globe's editorial page, which is operated separately from its newsgathering operation."

Dan Totten, president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, said yesterday that he appreciated Kerry's effort and concern. "Clearly, his effort is to get the Globe in a better place," Totten told the Globe. Later in a statement, he added: "The support and outreach received thus far from our readers, advertisers, media colleagues, Boston and New England business and political leaders has been enormous."

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Author:Strupp, Joe
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 20, 2009
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