Tab Communications

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Tab Communications Inc.
Industry Newspapers
Fate Bought, then dissolved
Successor Community Newspaper Company
Founded 1979
Defunct January 11, 1996
Headquarters 254 Second Avenue,
Needham, Massachusetts 02494 United States
Key people
Tab's three founders:
Russel Pergament, CEO
Dick Yousoufian, president
Stephen Cummings, publisher
From NewsWest merger:
James F. Carlin, Tab chairman
James Kerasiotes, Tab director
Products Weekly newspapers in Boston and several western suburbs
Parent Independent, 1979–1992
Fidelity Investments, 1992–1996

Tab Communications Inc. (also called Tabloid Newspaper Publishers), based first in Newton, Massachusetts, United States, then in nearby Needham, was a weekly newspaper publisher in Greater Boston before being bought by Fidelity Investments in 1992 and dissolved into Community Newspaper Company in 1996.

The company, founded in 1979, steadily expanded from one newspaper to 14 and made one major acquisition, buying its competitor NewsWest in 1989. Most of the Tabs are published by GateHouse Media, who bought CNC in 2006, and are still named after their tabloid format, although they are now broadsheets.


Three alternative weekly advertising representatives formed their own company in 1979, publishing the Brookline Tab and Newton Tab as advertising-heavy community papers. Two years later, prompted by the closure of The Real Paper, the company expanded into Boston and Cambridge.

At first, CEO Russel Pergament acknowledged that the papers gave softball coverage to some political topics, but said his papers were happy to "live on crumbs from The Globe's table"—to report the local news the big-city daily was missing. He said in 1981 that "we find that the people who live in Brookline and Newton know their local politics better than ever now, largely due to us."[1]

Later that year, however, observers had kudos for the Cambridge Tab, citing its eye-catching headlines and devotion to issue-based journalism as separating it from the 137-year-old Cambridge Chronicle. One reader said he preferred the Tab because "I want to know what's going on behind the scenes in politics. I'm not so interested in who was born or who died or what's on the school lunch menu."[2] Pergament continued to stress the importance of local coverage in a 1986 story about free local weekly papers in Time: "The key to our success is that we're relentlessly local," he said.[3]

MetroWest expansion[edit]

Further information: The MetroWest Daily News

After solidifying the Tab's position in Boston and the near-west suburbs, the company joined a 1985 rush to capture the MetroWest market. Wellesley, formerly monopolized by the Townsman, a 79-year-old weekly, saw the advent of NewsWest, a regional weekly, and a new local news page at the Middlesex News daily, which also bought the Townsman that year.

Tab entered the Wellesley market in October, months after NewsWest. Mark Jurkowitz, editor of the new Wellesley Tab, said "We live and die with local coverage. We felt there was a need in Wellesley for a good, exciting, feisty weekly." [4]

While criticizing NewsWest's regional perspective, Tab followed its competitors farther into MetroWest the next year, opening Tabs in Framingham, Natick and Weston in May 1986. Pergament reiterated that the difference between his newspapers and the others was local focus: "People are not getting enough local news" in NewsWest and the Middlesex News, he said. "Well, we're going to give them local news like they've never had it before -- we're going to out-News the News."[5]

Purchase of NewsWest[edit]

While the Tab came trickling into MetroWest town-by-town, a regional weekly hit eight communities at once, May 22, 1985. NewsWest mailed 45,000 free copies per week, hitting every home in Dover, Natick, Needham, Sherborn, Sudbury, Wayland, Wellesley and Weston.[4]

On April 1, 1986, NewsWest expanded into Ashland, Holliston and Framingham. Pergament denigrated his regional competitor, calling it "that amateur hour", while NewsWest president James Kerasiotes alleged that Tab and the Middlesex News were trying to sabotage their new competitor.[5]

Over the next few years, NewsWest added several more towns to its distribution area -- Hopkinton, Marlborough, Needham, Southborough, Westborough—and in 1989 approached Tab Communications in an attempt to buy it. Instead, Tab ended up purchasing NewsWest, bringing its founder James Carlin on board as company chairman and retaining Kerasiotes as a board member. Tab's circulation, at the time, was given at 163,000.[6]

Bought by Fidelity[edit]

Following a tough year economically, Tab in 1991 sent a letter to its subscribers asking for a voluntary donation of US$10 to keep the newspapers, and community events they sponsored, afloat.[7]

Late in 1992, Cummings, Pergament and Yousoufian sold out for an undisclosed price to Fidelity Investments. Cummings and Pergament stayed on as heads of Tab Communications, which formed a semi-autonomous division of Community Newspaper Company. The deal raised CNC's weekly circulation to 550,000.[8]

Tab Communications was dissolved in early 1996, when CNC realigned its operating units by geography, splitting the Tabs between the new Metro and West units.[9] The former Tab headquarters, in Needham, became CNC's corporate office and headquarters of the Metro Unit; the West Tabs moved in with their former competitor, the Middlesex News.


Upon its sale to CNC in 1992, Tab Communications consisted of 14 free weekly newspapers, with a circulation well over 150,000, all in the immediate Boston area or MetroWest, Massachusetts (the year of the newspapers' first issue is in parentheses):

All of these newspapers except the Dover, Sherborn and Wellesley papers are still published by Community Newspaper Company, in the company's Metro and West units. The Sudbury, Weston and Wayland papers are still issued in combined editions with former competitors; the Cambridge paper still competes with the Chronicle, now also owned by CNC.


  1. ^ O'Connor, Rory. "Death at an Early Age". The Boston Globe, October 18, 1981.
  2. ^ Hirshson, Paul. "3 Papers Joust for Position in Cambridge". The Boston Globe, page 1, March 20, 1983.
  3. ^ Castro, Janice (July 24, 1986). "No money down: Free newspapers pile up profits". Time. 
  4. ^ a b Sleeper, Peter B. "Read All About It: 4 Newspapers Woo Wellesley -- and Ad Dollars". The Boston Globe, page 21, October 23, 1985.
  5. ^ a b Mehegan, David. "Suburban Newspapers Slug It Out for Ad Dollars". The Boston Globe, page 23, May 14, 1986.
  6. ^ French, Desiree. "Two Suburban Newspapers to Merge Forces". The Boston Globe, page 39, February 28, 1989.
  7. ^ Arnett, Elsa C. "Free Boston Weekly Asks Readers to Give". The Boston Globe, May 15, 1991.
  8. ^ Krasner, Jeffrey. "Fidelity Investments Unit Buys Out TAB Newspapers". Boston Herald, December 5, 1992.
  9. ^ Cassidy, Tina. "Community Newspaper Realigns Properties". The Boston Globe, January 12, 1996.