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McGrory out--of his own volition--as Globe metro editor

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:

-------

To All:

When Brian McGrory became Metro editor, he set a clear and ambitious
course. Stories would be unique and enterprising. They would not only be
important; they would be interesting and entertaining. There would be
humanity 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 has
accomplished them all, brilliantly so. This is a Metro staff that day after
day sets the state and local news agenda. Under Brian’s strong and skilled
leadership, the staff routinely beats the competition on major stories.
Investigative moxie has been built into its DNA. We’ve dramatically
improved our hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute presence online.


And this is a staff with a wide-ranging repertoire. We have stuff that hits
hard when called for. We also have reportorial gems that surface the
personality -- and the characters -- of the community. These are stories of
emotion and empathy, of sorrow, joy, and laughter. Whatever the story, one
thing is for sure: The writing matters. And it sparkles, often because
Brian himself applied the polish.

Now I have to let you in on something Brian told me when he graciously and
enthusiastically took on the job of Deputy Managing Editor/Local News: He
wanted advance permission to return to his column after two years. I gave
it, of course. If Brian was going to lend his talents to the entire
newsroom, this was a loan term I could scarcely refuse.

We’re well past two years, and we’re nearing three. Brian has reminded me
of my commitment, and I’m going to honor it. He’ll be returning as a
columnist in early January. (To his fellow columnists: We’ll be working out
a new schedule.) I’m sad to have one of America’s best journalists step out
of 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 the
sort of eloquent and forceful voice for the Globe in the community that is
also critical to our success.

So much of what our newsroom has achieved in recent years is a product of
Brian’s ferocious work ethic, deep contacts in the community, his
dedication to craft, boundless creative thinking, and a leadership style
that is both inspired and inspirational. Think back on a remarkable run of
coverage: revelations about corruption at the highest level on Beacon Hill;
investigations into abuse of disability pensions; magnificently
comprehensive, vivid, and sensitive coverage of Senator Kennedy’s illness,
death and funeral; the inner workings of City Hall, and the circles of
influence, revealed as never before; and scoops and works of distinctive
enterprise that are truly too lengthy to list here. He has set a high
standard for us all.

Another accomplishment -- a huge one -- is that he has constructed a
remarkable team of reporters and editors. From that talented team comes his
successor, Jennifer Peter, who as City Editor has been a marvelous leader
in her own right: committed, driven, versatile, deeply knowledgeable. You
have to wonder at her seemingly limitless capacity for work and her
infinite patience. You have to admire her comfortable manner and how easily
she listens, drawing out the best in others. I know for a fact that Brian
leaned 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 biggest
stories. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with her range and
experience, and her appointment is a good reminder that the Globe newsroom
has a remarkably deep reservoir of talent.

Jen’s professional career in Boston began in 2002, when she was hired by
the Associated Press as a general assignment reporter and then quickly
moved to the State House. She became the AP’s lead reporter on the
legalization of gay marriage and its local reporter assigned to John
Kerry’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Convention in
Boston.

Jen has built an impressive career at the Globe in the last five years. She
became co-editor of the Globe North section in 2004, the Globe’s state
political editor in January 2007 and then city editor later that year. She
has coordinated the local news report and directly overseen coverage of
schools, police, transportation, and Boston’s neighborhoods.

As political editor, she directed coverage of the tumultuous early days of
the Patrick administration and the final gay marriage vote, with all the
drama that preceded and followed it. As city editor, she played a central
role in coverage of the Tai Ho fire, which killed two firefighters, and the
controversies it ignited; the so-called Craigslist killing; and Senator
Kennedy’s brain cancer diagnosis and death. She has worked powerfully well
with 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 then
received 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 of
ground in her early reporting career. She started at a two-reporter
newspaper in Sun Valley, Idaho, and then moved on to The Day in New London,
Conn., where she covered state politics, the explosive expansion of
gambling in southeastern Connecticut, and the region’s troubled nuclear
power plants. After taking a position at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk,
Va., she covered municipal government and the state legislature. She also
served on the paper’s investigative reporting team, collaborating on
stories about patronage within the state sheriff’s department, routine
violations of a law designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and Capital
One’s role in directly writing a law that allowed it to charge higher
interest rates.

So we’re in for a smooth transition in Metro when it takes effect with the
New Year. We’re also in for another period of strong leadership.

Please congratulate Jen on her appointment as Deputy Managing Editor/Local
News. And, Brian, many thanks for your enormous and enduring contributions
to a great news organization.

Marty

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