On the one hand — and through no fault of Baron’s — the paper has lost a lot of jobs. (Two and a half years ago, for example, the Globe had 450 newsroom employees; once the latest round of job cuts is completed, that number will probably fall to around 375.) It’s also seen the departure of several major names. Metro editor Carolyn Ryan left for the New York Times; Pulitzer Prize–winning metro columnist Eileen McNamara took a buyout; so did Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter and editor Steve Kurkjian.
On the bright side, however, the Globe has won three Pulitzers in the Baron era, a pace that resembles the eight-year, four-Pulitzer run of his predecessor, Matt Storin. (A Globe series on global warming is reportedly a finalist in this year’s Explanatory Reporting category.) More to the point, Baron’s roster of signature hires and promotions continues to grow. He tapped Solomon as business editor, front-page editor, and now managing editor for news — which, it should be noted, is now the number-two spot on the Globe’s editorial totem pole. Baron also promoted former metro columnist Brian McGrory to metro editor, picked Doug Most to run the BostonGlobeMagazine, and put David Beard in charge of boston.com. He named Kevin Cullen and Yvonne Abraham as metro columnists. And he plucked Charlie Savage — who proceeded to win a Pulitzer for his influential series on presidential signing-statements — from the Miami Herald.
When Baron arrived in Boston, also from the Miami Herald, he took the reins of a paper where he’d never actually worked, in a city he didn’t really know. Six years later — thanks largely to repeated job cuts necessitated by the newspaper industry’s ongoing struggles — virtually every facet of the Globe bears Baron’s imprint. Now more than ever, it’s his paper. And his choices are going to determine whether it thrives or just survives.
About the future: Baron’s March 10 memo also announced that Solomon would be heading up a searching reassessment of the Globe’s identity. “This is a time of reinvention for newspapers,” Baron wrote. “Very shortly, Caleb will be leading a thorough examination of how the Globe should change in today’s radically altered media environment. All of you will be invited into that conversation.”
Solomon himself made the same point, with even greater urgency, in an interview with Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer. “The Globe as a news organization needs to change so we can thrive in the future instead of limp along and struggle mightily as we are now,” he said. “So I want to engage all the creativity and smarts and passion and journalistic talent within our newsroom and the rest of this organization to figure this out — and figure this out fast.”
Kudos to Baron and Solomon for their willingness to shake up the status quo — but note, too, what their statements didn’t mention. I’m referring to words like “our readers,” or “our customers,” or “the public.” Presumably, these are the people the Globe wants to please with its upcoming new-media makeover. Surely the paper wouldn’t reinvent itself without asking what they want.
Fret not, says Solomon. “Of course, given the nature of who we are, we care passionately about what readers want,” he tells the Phoenix. “So we’re obviously going to take that into account. We’re doing our best to figure that out, now and in the future. And one of the best ways to hear what readers want is to ask them.”
That’s a relief. We’ll be waiting.
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Adam Reilly's Media Log: http://www.thephoenix.com/medialog