Bad News

Boca's hometown newspaper, once a paragon of journalism, has become a laughingstock

The Hellers sold the schools in 1999, though he stayed on as a consultant. He left last April, he says, after realizing the new owners didn't have aggressive plans to expand nationwide: "I was happy to leave. It was time for a new challenge. I had no idea it would be owning a newspaper."

Although Heller also wouldn't talk numbers, Mathieson says Martin filled him in before the sale was complete: a price tag of $2 million, $600,000 of which went to pay off Neely -- not an impressive return on an $11 million investment.

Like every owner before him, Heller has big plans: beefing up coverage of real estate, personal finance, business, and technology; adding a travel column; and expanding the sports section. Of course he uses the word local liberally when describing the paper's focus. Everyone who has owned the News since Knight Ridder has vehemently believed that local news will be the paper's salvation.

Employees call their office "The Palace" for good reason
Joshua Prezant
Employees call their office "The Palace" for good reason

Maybe, maybe not. But even if Heller's vision proves viable, it may have come too late. "I just don't know if they can come back," says Randall Murray, the fired editorial-page editor. "It's lost so much credibility, it's gotten so small that there's no reason to take it anymore."

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