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Globe Pulitzer winner stops reporting, starts editing

Carolyn Ryan's exit isn't the only big change at Morrissey Boulevard. Effective yesterday, reporter Gareth Cook--who won a 2005 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism--is deputy editor of the Globe's Ideas section.

Here's how Cook explained his move to the Phoenix: "I've always been really interested in the Ideas section. I just thought it was a very great thing the Globe does, and I think it's not too strong to say it's unique. And the work I'm doing here is actually quite similar to what I've been doing as a science reporter, which is trying to share with readers a world that is often behind closed doors, that's hard to understand.

"The other thing is, I had that [reporting] job for seven years," Cook added. "I think like a lot of journalists, I got into this business because I had a fundamentally short attention span. This is a way of working on a different set of things, thinking about a different set of things, and working for a sectino I've always been really enthusiastic about.

Finally, Cook said, intellectual matters--like science--are an area in which Boston enjoys some eminence: "As a journalist, you're generally looking for where your competitive advantage is.... I just see this as an area where [the Globe] can really make a difference."

Here's the memo in which Ideas editor Wen Stephenson announced Cook's hiring:

I have the great pleasure to announce that one of the Globe's very finest will soon be joining the Ideas staff: Effective Monday, Gareth Cook will be the section's new deputy editor.

As many of you already know, John Swansburg, the section's current deputy editor, is heading to New York to take a job as an editor at Slate. His last day is this Friday. It's impossible to overstate how much John will be missed. He brought huge amounts of talent, intelligence, and humanity to the job, and all of us who've worked with him here wish him the very best.

Gareth, like those who've held the deputy position since Ideas launched in 2002 (Jenny Schuessler, myself, and John), will be a true partner and collaborator in shaping the section as it continues to evolve. He'll bring great strengths: not only his knowledge of science and his experience as a reporter, but his broad experience as an editor.

All of us know Gareth as a Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter, but many may not know that Gareth's career prior to the Globe included significant stints in magazine journalism as an editor of one kind or another. Indeed, his current job as a science reporter was his first full-time writing job. After graduating from Brown University in 1991 (with degrees in both mathematical physics and international relations), he worked as an editor at an academic quarterly (Foreign Policy), a political monthly (The Washington Monthly), and two weeklies (U.S.News and the Boston Phoenix, where he was the News editor).

In January 1999, Peter Canellos hired him to work on the Globe's city desk, and he served as editor of the New England section and then as the Sunday Metro editor. There was a time, he tells me, when he was probably best known around the newsroom as Ellen Barry's editor, because "she was on a tear of doing great New England stories for Sunday page one, and I got to sit back and take credit for them." Spoken like a great editor!

Interestingly enough, Gareth was also part of the team that conceptualized and produced the prototype for the Ideas section in 2001 and 2002, and he even wrote a story for the prototype. So it's fair to say he's been a believer in the section's possibilities since day one -- and there is, as he puts it, "a certain logic" in his coming to work here.

Gareth, 37, lives in Jamaica Plain, and he and his wife, Amanda, have two children, Oliver, 5, and Aidan, 4 months, to whom Gareth is utterly devoted.

I'm proud to welcome him to Ideas.

-Wen

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