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Goodbye to all that
Marty Baronís arrival at the Boston Globe marks not just the end of the Matt Storin era, but of the Tom Winship era as well

BY DAN KENNEDY


NEARLY THREE WEEKS ago, the Boston Globe announced one of the most momentous changes in its 129-year history. Publisher Richard Gilman, editor Matthew Storin, and Miami Herald executive editor Martin Baron appeared at a hastily called news conference on July 2 to announce that Storin was retiring and that Baron would take his place. As of last Friday, July 13, Storin officially became the former editor of the Globe.

But if Storin had had his way, the transition wouldnít have been quite so momentous. The Phoenix has learned that four internal candidates were interested in his job: Storinís number two, executive editor Helen Donovan; managing editor Greg Moore, whoís third on the masthead and is the paperís highest-ranking African-American; Washington bureau chief David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner; and deputy managing editor for projects Ben Bradlee Jr., son of the legendary retired executive editor of the Washington Post. And though Storin declines to discuss those names ( " Thatís for Richard to say " ), he makes no secret of having wanted Gilman to stay in-house.

" My role was to provide him with good internal candidates, which I think I did, and to give him my recommendation, which I did, " says Storin. " And the only thing Iíll say, no surprise, is that I thought he should stay inside. " As for newsroom conjecture that Storin had specifically urged Gilman to name Donovan, he replies, " Well, thatís not something Iím going to issue a categorical denial on. "

Not that Storin is brooding over the choice of Baron, a 46-year-old veteran of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times who, in just 18 months as the top editor of the troubled Miami Herald, won a Pulitzer for his paperís coverage of the federal raid to recover Elián González from his Miami relativesí home, earned a national reputation for his pugnacious, go-it-alone stance in covering the Florida recount, and was named " Editor of the Year " by the trade magazine Editor & Publisher.

Storin, 58, appeared relaxed and happy last week during a lunchtime interview at the Bristol Lounge, overlooking the Public Garden, and he expressed full support for his successor (see " Storin Speaks, " page 16). " I understand the logic and the philosophy of going outside, " he says. " Itís a little bit akin in medical terminology to seeking a second opinion about the paper. " As for Baron himself, Storin, whoís had " about three to four hours of conversation " with him, says, " I like him. I think he asks all the right questions. Heís a real news guy. He understands the issues of journalism very well. "

For the Globe, the arrival of Marty Baron is the third and most significant change in less than a decade. The first came in 1993, when the Taylor family, who had owned the paper almost since its inception, sold out to the New York Times Company for a breathtaking $1.1 billion ó half the Times Companyís market capitalization at that time. The second took place in 1999, when Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. removed publisher Benjamin Taylor and replaced him with Gilman, a Times Company executive who had specialized in circulation and business operations.

As stunning as those moves were, the Baron hiring will have a far more direct effect on the newsroom, and thus on what really matters: the people and institutions the Globe covers, and, of course, the readers. " Itís the moment when the merger is complete, " says Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, at Harvardís Kennedy School.

Gilman declined to be interviewed for this article. When asked about in-house candidates at the July 2 news conference, he replied that though the Globe has " an outstanding team of editing talent, " he wanted to find " the best person in the country " to replace Storin, whom he hailed as " a very tough person to replace at the level of excellence that he has brought to this newspaper. " Globe spokesman Rick Gulla turned down two requests for an interview with Baron, explaining that the new editor has decided to maintain his silence until after his official arrival on July 30. Heís reportedly staying at the Colonnade Hotel, meeting with staff members and looking for a place to live.

But thereís no question that Baronís appointment marks a sharp break with the past. He is the first outsider to be named editor at a paper that has always stayed within what used to be called " the Globe family. " He is the first Jewish editor at a paper that ó for all its celebrated diversity ó has long been dominated by Yankees and Irish Catholics. He speaks fluent Spanish ó a huge asset in establishing ties with one of Bostonís fastest-growing communities. Heís an art collector, evidence that he possesses a different sensibility from the news/politics/business/sports orientation of Matt Storin and most of his predecessors. Heís single, and has a reputation for being the first person to arrive at the office and the last person to leave ó a devotion to work that already has some Globe insiders wondering what impact his demands will have on their own personal lives.

Most important, Baron is clearly the choice of the New York Times Company ó not an unalloyed plus, given that the Globe has just gone through a painful round of downsizing driven as much by the companyís demands for profits as by this yearís precipitous drop in advertising revenues (see " Squeezing the Globe, " News and Features, June 8), but certainly a key to his getting the job. Although Gilman reportedly considered other outside candidates ó at one point Oregonian editor Sandra Rowe was approached, and outgoing New York Times managing editor Bill Keller was asked many months ago whether he would ever consider the job (he wouldnít) ó there seems to be little doubt that Times Company officials are thrilled with Baron. Keller himself says he recommended Baron " enthusiastically " both to Gilman and to Sulzberger. " Heís an editor of terrific judgment and integrity, " says Keller. " Iím partial to editors who tell you what they think without nursing some political agenda, and Marty did that while he was here. "

What difference will it make that Gilman and the Times Company chose an outsider rather than one of the internal candidates? At this point, thereís no way of knowing. Clearly, though, a Helen Donovan or Greg Moore at the top of the masthead would have meant continuity, gradual change, and a thorough, firsthand knowledge of the Globeís ó and of Bostonís ó traditions, history, alliances, and petty feuds. The naming of Baron means an end to all that, and is a clear, unmistakable sign that a new era has begun.

So historic is this change that one staff member who asked not to be identified invoked the name of Tom Winship, who ran the Globe from 1965 to í85, won 12 Pulitzers, and brought the paper to national prominence ó and whose spirit still looms large at 135 Morrissey Boulevard.

" Itís not the end of the Storin era, " this source says. " Itís like itís finally the end of the Winship era. "

TOM WINSHIP begs to differ with the notion that Marty Baron is the first outsider to be named editor of the Globe. During the 1950s Winship worked in Washington, for the Washington Post and for Massachusetts senator Leverett Saltonstall, before heading to Boston in the early í60s to help his father, Globe editor Laurence Winship, remake what had become a tired old newspaper.

" In spite of my name, I was an outsider, " says Winship, just slightly tongue-in-cheek. " Of course, I had the break of being classic nepotism, of which Iím proud. But it wasnít easy for me to break in, mainly because I knew so little. "

It didnít take long for Winship to figure things out. In 1965, Laurence Winship retired and his son was named to the top slot. And Tom Winship quickly remade the Globe into a paper to be reckoned with. Under Winship, the Globe became known for its liberal crusades ó especially its staunch defense of court-ordered school desegregation. That cemented the paperís burgeoning relationship with suburban liberals, but it also cost it the support of the cityís white-ethnic conservatives, especially Irish Catholics, who had long constituted the Globeís base. Winship also assembled the Spotlight Team, a Pulitzer machine that unearthed stories such as rampant corruption in Somerville (a series that won the paper its second Pulitzer) and in county government.

As respected and admired as Winship was, when he retired in 1985, he left the paper with two long-term problems. The first was the lack of a clear line of succession. The second was a freewheeling environment in which reporters and editors were allowed to indulge their liberal, pro-Kennedy bias and in which certain ethical niceties were overlooked. The poster boy for bad behavior (to borrow a phrase from the late John Kennedy Jr.) was Mike Barnicle, brought in by executive editor and Kennedy pal Bob Healy, who in one of his very first columns quoted a white gas-station owner as using the N-word. That cost the Globe an estimated $40,000 when a judge concluded that Barnicle had made it up.

Winship was succeeded by Michael Janeway, a quiet, cerebral type who came to the Globe from the Atlantic Monthly in the late í70s, rose to managing editor of the Sunday paper, and led the team that won a 1983 Pulitzer for its coverage of the history of the nuclear-arms race. Janeway hadnít been the only candidate ó other possibilities had included Timothy Leland (who eventually moved to the business side of the paper, becoming publisher William Taylorís assistant) and Matt Storin himself, who joined the Globe in 1969 and had served stints as city editor, Washington reporter, and Tokyo bureau chief before rising to managing editor.

As it turned out, Janeway also proved not to be the best candidate. He resigned in 1986, about a month after political columnist (and Winship devotee) David Nyhan delivered an internal speech calling for more and tougher coverage of local news ó something that was widely seen as an assault on Janeway, although Nyhan himself has always denied that was his intent.

During this time, Storin had a falling-out with Janeway and resigned. So when Janeway left, the Taylors turned to executive editor Jack Driscoll, a stabilizing force whose management-by-consensus style was good for morale ó at least at first. By the early í90s, though, Driscoll found himself presiding over a newsroom riven by factions, with women and minority staff members openly airing their grievances and with a handful of senior editors jockeying for Driscollís job.

The jockeying came to an end in August 1992, when Storin ó who had spent his years in exile at such posts as U.S. News & World Report, the alternative Maine Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times ó was lured back to the Globe from New York, where he was ensconced as managing editor of the Daily News. Storin was named executive editor; the following March, Driscoll retired and Storin, to no oneís surprise, became the editor. Just a few months after that, to everyoneís surprise, the Taylors sold out to the Times Company. But with then-chairman Arthur " Punch " Sulzberger providing the Taylors with a written agreement that the Times Company would not interfere in the management of the Globe for at least five years, Storinís job security was assured.

 

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Issue Date: July 19-26, 2001