Why WGBH acquired GlobalPost

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WGBH’s acquisition of GlobalPost gives the station access to digital resources and a global reporting team, while the digital news website will live on within an established news organization, according to executives who spoke with Current Thursday.

Philip Balboni, GlobalPost president and c.e.o., told Current that prior to the WGBH deal, the company was considering its future and reviewing strategic options, including both acquisitions and strategic partnerships.

With GlobalPost located in Boston, Balboni knew leaders of WGBH, and the company was familiar with the broadcaster’s values and mission. “We felt very comfortable that [GlobalPost] would have a great future with WGBH and PRI,” Balboni said. “That was really the driver.”

Balboni said GlobalPost’s unique nature also made it important to connect with an established news organization. “It’s smart to make a long-term plan with an institution who has been around probably 70 years and will be here probably another 70 years,” he said.

“There’s always been an affinity [with Balboni] and common value in serving our audience with quality journalism,” said Jon Abbott, president and c.e.o of WGBH.

The deal is intended to expand the international reporting of Public Radio International, which is owned by WGBH. The broadcaster chose to acquire GlobalPost rather than hire reporters to expand PRI’s journalism because it gives PRI access to global correspondents, Abbott said. WGBH also liked that GlobalPost is digital-only.

“What we get is a group of correspondents used to reaching digital audiences,” he said. “We quickly expand our correspondent core, [and] we get digital editors. . . . It’s exciting to bring folks in who have had that [digital] orientation from the start.”

WGBH and PRI are still in the process of making staffing decisions about which correspondents and editorial staffers will join PRI. Some of GlobalPost’s correspondents are paid staff, while others are freelancers. Over the “next couple months,” Abbott said, the organization will be reviewing the GlobalPost correspondent team. “We have to compare what we have with what we’re acquiring,” he said.

Balboni will serve as a strategic advisor at PRI, a role that he said will be “very informal.” As an example of how he might be able to help, he cited his experience raising funds for a conflict-reporting project at GlobalPost.

Balboni also said that he plans to stay active in journalism and launch another venture that will be less ambitious than GlobalPost and not compete with PRI.