Boston Globe editor Marty Baron confirmed rumors yesterday that he will leave Boston to replace Marcus Brauchli as the executive editor of The Washington Post. Baron has led The Boston Globe since July 2001 — and he hopes his 11-year tenure will have a lasting effect on the paper.
“This has been the most fulfilling chapter of my professional life,” Baron told his colleagues when announcing his departure. “I hope that I’ve been able to make a meaningful contribution to the history of this organization and to this community.”
Baron’s meaningful contribution includes leading the Globe to six Pulitzer Prizes, most notably for uncovering the Catholic Church’s role in covering up the sexual abuse of Boston’s children. Baron also supported the Globe through a 2009 shutdown threat from its parent company, The New York Times. Before taking leadership at the Boston Globe, Baron held top editing positions at the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Miami Herald, where he was executive editor.
Baron, who will assume his new position on Jan. 2, has said that he does not have a “road map” for his leadership at the Post. But many believe that Baron is tasked with revitalizing the paper from poor leadership that has diminished its prestige.
“[Post CEO] Katherine Weymouth has, I think, not really proven herself,” Joshua Benton of the Neiman Journalism Lab argued on a recent segment of Beat the Press. “Brauchli has not been a particularly inspirational leader. I don’t see a lot of capacity there going forward — they’re not going to be in the same breath as The New York Times anytime soon … it’s a tough job.”
Those who know Baron believe he’s up to the task. In an interview shortly before Baron’s departure was announced, Boston Globe State House bureau chief Frank Phillips described Baron as an advocate for journalistic excellence. “Marty Baron is a terrific newsman, he’s a journalist at heart,” Phillips said. “He also has very high standards… You get frustrated — but you always respect him for it.”
Baron’s departure will be a transition for The Boston Globe. Publisher Christopher M. Mayer announced that the Globe would conduct a nation-wide search for Baron’s replacement, as well as considering internal candidates. When asked in a recent interview if he thought that potential replacements would be deterred by long-term rumors of The Boston Globe’s sale, Baron brushed off the scuttlebutt.
“These rumors have persisted for a long time, and here we are, we’re still a member of the New York Times Company,” Baron said. He also noted that the Globe’s precarious position is not unique, saying, “The uncertainty that surrounds the Globe is no different than the uncertainty that surrounds any other metropolitan paper in the country.”
In a further comment on the challenges facing the news industry, Baron expressed hope that he can help the Post navigate the digital realm. “Well, our mission at the Post will be like the mission of many news organizations these days, which is prepare ourselves for the digital future — which is actually the digital present — and still hold true to our core values and our core mission,” Baron explained. “That’s what we’re trying to do here at the Globe, and that’s what I expect we’ll be trying to do at the Washington Post as well.”