Worcester T&G by way of Tokyo

More than 120 Massachusetts daily and weekly newspapers learned on Thursday that they will report to ultimate bosses halfway around the world after the private equity firm that owns GateHouse Media announced it was selling out to a Japanese multinational corporation for $3.3 billion.

SoftBank Group Corp. said it is purchasing Fortress Investment Group, which owns a senior living property management business and, through its GateHouse subsidiary, is the largest publisher of daily newspapers in the United States.

GateHouse owns a slew of Massachusetts publications, including the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, the Cape Cod Times, the MetroWest Daily News, the Enterprise of Brockton, the Standard-Times of New Bedford, and the Herald News of Fall River. It also owns the Providence Journal in Rhode Island and the Portsmouth Herald in New Hampshire.

Kirk Davis, the CEO of GateHouse, told the Boston Business Journal that the sale will have little impact on the day-to-day operations of the newspapers. Nevertheless, the owner of the newspapers will now be located even farther away — in Tokyo rather than Rochester, New York.

For the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, SoftBank will be its fifth owner in 17 years. Red Sox owner John Henry acquired the Telegram & Gazette in 2013 as part of his purchase of the Boston Globe from the New York Times. Henry told the newspaper’s employees that he wanted to find a local buyer for the newspaper but, barring that, he would continue to run it. Instead, he sold the paper to Halifax Media Group of Daytona Beach, Florida, in May 2014, which in turn sold to GateHouse in November 2014.

SoftBank is headed by Masayoshi Son, a flamboyant entrepreneur best known for his investments in telecommunications, startups, and ecommerce. He runs the second-largest telecommunications firm in Japan and also owns Sprint. He met with Donald Trump in December, after Trump’s election victory but before his inauguration as president, and promised to invest $50 billion in the United States and bring 50,000 jobs to the country.

Many analysts were puzzled why SoftBank would buy Fortress, and Son offered little explanation in announcing the deal. “Fortress’s excellent track record speaks for itself, and we look forward to benefitting from its leadership, broad-based expertise, and world-class investment platform,” Son said in a statement. “For SoftBank, this opportunity will immediately help expand our group capabilities, and, alongside our soon-to-be-established SoftBank Vision Fund platform, will accelerate our SoftBank 2.0 transformation strategy of bold, disciplined investment and world class execution to drive sustainable long-term growth.”

–BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

ML Strategies rakes in more than $4 million in state lobbying fees in 2016, setting what appears to be a one-year record. (CommonWealth)

The House and Senate co-chairs of a new marijuana policy committee say they are open to major changes in the state’s pot law. (Boston Globe)

In a new chapter in her ongoing battle with Exxon Mobil, Attorney General Maura Healey said she won’t comply with a congressional subpoena from the House Science, Space and Technology Committee related to the case, saying the committee has no jurisdiction over state investigations. (Boston Globe)

Gov. Charlie Baker, starting to make the rounds at newspaper editorial boards (he stopped at the Lowell Sun earlier in the week), doesn’t favor creating a sanctuary state but urges municipalities to do what works best for them. (Salem News)

Members of the Governor’s Council, for the second week in a row, attacked and berated each other in what one declared was a “new low” during their weekly meeting. (State House News Service)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Haverhill City Councilor Andy Vargas says he received reports that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement was conducting raids in the city, but ICE denies it. (Eagle-Tribune)

A city councilor wants her colleagues to discuss whether Quincy should declare itself a “sanctuary city.” (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

There really is no way to adequately summarize President Trump’s extraordinary press conference. You just have to watch it. (New York Times) Or you can read a transcript. (Associated Press)

US Rep. Bill Keating, in a Globe op-ed, calls for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump campaign connections with Russia.

Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL, turned down an offer from Trump to succeed ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. (New York Times)

Lost in the spectacle of Trump’s combative press conference was his announcement he would issue a new immigrant travel ban next week that aligns with the Appeals Court ruling that struck down his first attempt, even though he continues to disagree with the decision but won’t challenge it. (U.S. News & World Report)

The New Hampshire House, with more than 30 Republicans defecting, rejects Gov. Chris Sununu’s right-to-work legislation. (Eagle-Tribune)

Former British prime minister Tony Blair is urging voters to rise up against Brexit. (Time)

ELECTIONS

Maurice Cunningham raises questions about the “dark money” that went into the charter school ballot campaign. (WGBH)

A slew of candidates emerges for the open race for the South Boston-South End district city council seat being vacated by Bill Linehan. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Greater Boston felt the effects of yesterday’s “Day WIthout Immigrants” strike. (Boston Globe)

Worcester restaurants close as part of the protest. (Telegram & Gazette) Gov. Charlie Baker praises the statewide move to draw attention to the role immigrants play in the economy. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

UMass Lowell receives a $5 million life science grant from the state to fund a biomed lab. Area high schools also received funding. (Lowell Sun) Gov. Charlie Baker hands out $3 million in life science funds to the Gloucester Genomics Institute and four area high schools. (Gloucester Times)

Former secretary of state John Kerry is heading (back) to Yale, where he will be the first director of a new initiative (named for him) examining important global problems from terrorism to climate change. (Boston Globe)

The principal at a Dracut elementary school resigns amid reports that he inappropriately touched a female colleague. (Lowell Sun)

New security measures are put in place at Boston’s school department headquarters in Roxbury following a recent incident in which a 15-year-old fired a gun at another teen in the building. (Boston Herald)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Steward Health Care makes its first expansion deal, buying eight hospitals in three states. It was unclear how the deal was financed, but Steward had previously indicated a real estate investment trust would buy the hospitals and Steward would run them. (Boston Globe)

The former premier of Bermuda, who is at the center of a bizarre lawsuit by the government he once headed alleging the Burlington-based Lahey Clinic bribed the former government leader, speaks out and denies the charges. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Gov. Charlie Baker launches a search process for a new leader of the MBTA and also asks the Fiscal and Management Control Board to stay in place through 2020. (CommonWealth)

As transit systems across the country try to add more riders, they face a time challenge. Census data indicate it’s faster to drive than take public transit in most cities, including Boston. (Governing)

Facing a nearly $1 million deficit, the Worcester Regional Transit Authority is hiking fares and cutting service. The deficit is being caused by a 10 percent drop in ridership, the loss of more than $500,000 in state operating funds, and a decline in advertising revenue. (Telegram & Gazette)

Worcester’s mayor and city manager urge state transportation officials to maintain direct Boston-Worcester commuter rail service and not add stops to the trip. (Telegram & Gazette)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Gov. Charlie Baker says he is powerless to stop a controversial gas plant from being built in Weymouth after federal permits were issued despite pleas from local residents that he take action. (WGBH)

Emissions of methane and carbon dioxide are declining across the United States, but the HFC pollutant found in air conditioners and refrigerators is on the rise. (Time)

A Berkshire Eagle editorial praises a baby-steps approach to improve recycling.

Climate change, a chronic water shortage, and a collapsing underground foundation that is causing the city to sink is threatening Mexico City’s existence in the not-too-distant future. (New York Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and many of his colleagues urge much broader criminal justice reform than is likely to come from a Council of State Governments proposal due out next week. Instead of focusing exclusively on “back end” measures to reduce recidivism, the senators want to attack the front end with sentencing reform. (CommonWealth)

MEDIA

Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, is giving millions away to news organizations. (Nieman Journalism Lab)

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

New York Times senior political editor Carolyn Ryan, an alumna of the Patriot Ledger, Boston Herald, and Boston Globe, has been promoted to the masthead of the Grey Lady as associate editor in charge of recruitment and special projects.