Brian McGrory, longtime editor of the Boston Globe, is stepping down at the end of this year. The announcement fell on Wednesday. McGrory has run the Globe for the past 10 years, and he’s now leaving to lead Boston University’s journalism program.
North East journalism professor and GBH contributor Dan Kennedy joined GBH’s Mary Blake on All things Considered to discuss McGrory’s leadership at the Globe and where the news organization might go next. The following is a slightly edited transcript.
Mary Blake: Do you have any idea what precipitated this movement? Is it a shock?
Dan Kennedy: I think half the town knew about it months ago, and we’ve been waiting for this announcement. But, you know, Brian has been editor of The Globe for a very long time. It’s a very stressful and exhausting job and people want to move on, so it seems like a good and interesting decision for him.
Black: Can we briefly talk about his career here? He had been with the Boston Globe for a long, long time.
Kennedy: He had really – I mean, he had been a very popular subway columnist for a number of years before becoming editor. He was a long-time Globe reporter before that. So it’s a very long career for McGrory at the Globe.
Black: Yeah. And he also had big shoes to put on. Marty Baron when he left to run the Washington Post. Do you think he did that? Did he fill those shoes?
Kennedy: Yeah. I mean, not in the same way. I mean, Marty Baron was a legendary editor who became even more of a legend once he went to The Washington Post. But I think the Globe continued to be a very good newspaper under McGrory, and I think it was a little different from Marty Baron’s Globe. He brought back some of the voice and attitude that the Globe traditionally had that I think Baron might have been a little uncomfortable with. And he also ran the Globe to a point where – and I don’t want to exaggerate this, because the business side of the Globe would have had at least as much to do with it as McGrory – but the Globe became one of the very few major financially viable metropolitan newspapers in the country.
Black: Right. And I know John Henry has a lot to do with it. And McGrory is a very popular figure in the newspaper. What does he say with the Boston Globe now in the media landscape, but direction? Is there any idea what might happen on that front?
Kennedy: You know, it’s hard to say. I thought about the direction the Globe might take by choosing a new publisher. And it’s hard not to ignore the reality that every Globe editor in its history has been a white man. And I doubt that will happen again. It can be a woman. It could be a person of color. It may be both. But as to whether they will recruit from within or from outside, anyone can guess right now.
Black: What about the idea of paper versus online? I know he had a lot to do with it and freely admitted he had to learn along the way. Do you see the Globe moving more in that direction?
Kennedy: Well, the Globe will keep its print edition as long as it can find a decent number of people willing to pay a premium for it. But certainly the Globe’s success in recent years has been entirely based on selling people digital subscriptions. And it will continue. There are many journalism articles in the Globe that appear online a few days before they go to print. And I have no doubt that will continue. I mean, every newspaper in the country does the same thing. And the Globe has been particularly good at that, I think.
Black: All right, Dan, thank you very much for being with us and for your insight here.
Kennedy: Thanks, Mary.