This was news to me, I confess, but apparently Brian McGrory set a time limit when he signed on as the Globe's metro editor in May 2007. He wanted to be able to return to full-time columnist duty after two years. And as of January, he'll be doing exactly that.
That's unfortunate for Globe readers. Throughout McGrory's editing tenure, but especially in the last year or so, I've been struck at the Globe's knack for ferreting out idiosyncratic local stories that read well whether you're a recent transplant to Boston or someone who's lived here for decades, and that provide a sense of how greater Boston feels at this particular moment in time. That's no small feat. Here's hoping that Jennifer Peter, McGrory's successor as deputy managing editor/local news, can follow suit.
The memo sent by Globe editor Marty Baron this morning follows:
When Brian McGrory became Metro editor, he set a clear and ambitiouscourse. Stories would be unique and enterprising. They would not only beimportant; they would be interesting and entertaining. There would behumanity and no lack of humor. The quality of writing would be top-notch.Those were goals in May, 2007. Today, we can honestly say he hasaccomplished them all, brilliantly so. This is a Metro staff that day afterday sets the state and local news agenda. Under Brian’s strong and skilledleadership, the staff routinely beats the competition on major stories.Investigative moxie has been built into its DNA. We’ve dramaticallyimproved our hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute presence online.And this is a staff with a wide-ranging repertoire. We have stuff that hitshard when called for. We also have reportorial gems that surface thepersonality -- and the characters -- of the community. These are stories ofemotion and empathy, of sorrow, joy, and laughter. Whatever the story, onething is for sure: The writing matters. And it sparkles, often becauseBrian himself applied the polish.Now I have to let you in on something Brian told me when he graciously andenthusiastically took on the job of Deputy Managing Editor/Local News: Hewanted advance permission to return to his column after two years. I gaveit, of course. If Brian was going to lend his talents to the entirenewsroom, this was a loan term I could scarcely refuse.We’re well past two years, and we’re nearing three. Brian has reminded meof my commitment, and I’m going to honor it. He’ll be returning as acolumnist in early January. (To his fellow columnists: We’ll be working outa new schedule.) I’m sad to have one of America’s best journalists step outof a position that is central to our success. I know, though, what we gain:The return of a superb columnist, also one of America’s best, and just thesort of eloquent and forceful voice for the Globe in the community that isalso critical to our success.So much of what our newsroom has achieved in recent years is a product ofBrian’s ferocious work ethic, deep contacts in the community, hisdedication to craft, boundless creative thinking, and a leadership stylethat is both inspired and inspirational. Think back on a remarkable run ofcoverage: revelations about corruption at the highest level on Beacon Hill;investigations into abuse of disability pensions; magnificentlycomprehensive, vivid, and sensitive coverage of Senator Kennedy’s illness,death and funeral; the inner workings of City Hall, and the circles ofinfluence, revealed as never before; and scoops and works of distinctiveenterprise that are truly too lengthy to list here. He has set a highstandard for us all.Another accomplishment -- a huge one -- is that he has constructed aremarkable team of reporters and editors. From that talented team comes hissuccessor, Jennifer Peter, who as City Editor has been a marvelous leaderin her own right: committed, driven, versatile, deeply knowledgeable. Youhave to wonder at her seemingly limitless capacity for work and herinfinite patience. You have to admire her comfortable manner and how easilyshe listens, drawing out the best in others. I know for a fact that Brianleaned constantly on Jen for some of the soundest judgment in the newsroom.Jen knows the Globe well, having led the staff on some of our biggeststories. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with her range andexperience, and her appointment is a good reminder that the Globe newsroomhas a remarkably deep reservoir of talent.Jen’s professional career in Boston began in 2002, when she was hired bythe Associated Press as a general assignment reporter and then quicklymoved to the State House. She became the AP’s lead reporter on thelegalization of gay marriage and its local reporter assigned to JohnKerry’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Convention inBoston.Jen has built an impressive career at the Globe in the last five years. Shebecame co-editor of the Globe North section in 2004, the Globe’s statepolitical editor in January 2007 and then city editor later that year. Shehas coordinated the local news report and directly overseen coverage ofschools, police, transportation, and Boston’s neighborhoods.As political editor, she directed coverage of the tumultuous early days ofthe Patrick administration and the final gay marriage vote, with all thedrama that preceded and followed it. As city editor, she played a centralrole in coverage of the Tai Ho fire, which killed two firefighters, and thecontroversies it ignited; the so-called Craigslist killing; and SenatorKennedy’s brain cancer diagnosis and death. She has worked powerfully wellwith reporters on some of our most memorable enterprise.A New England native -- born and raised in rural New Hampshire (Gilsum,population 500) -- Jen majored in English and Fine Arts at Amherst and thenreceived her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I.Newhouse School of Public Communication. South Boston is her home today.Before coming to Boston for the Associated Press, Jen covered a lot ofground in her early reporting career. She started at a two-reporternewspaper in Sun Valley, Idaho, and then moved on to The Day in New London,Conn., where she covered state politics, the explosive expansion ofgambling in southeastern Connecticut, and the region’s troubled nuclearpower plants. After taking a position at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk,Va., she covered municipal government and the state legislature. She alsoserved on the paper’s investigative reporting team, collaborating onstories about patronage within the state sheriff’s department, routineviolations of a law designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and CapitalOne’s role in directly writing a law that allowed it to charge higherinterest rates.So we’re in for a smooth transition in Metro when it takes effect with theNew Year. We’re also in for another period of strong leadership.Please congratulate Jen on her appointment as Deputy Managing Editor/LocalNews. And, Brian, many thanks for your enormous and enduring contributionsto a great news organization.Marty