First cut

Buyouts shrink the Globe newsroom — but not enough
By ADAM REILLY  |  March 25, 2009


Given the bleak state of the economy and the nonstop torrent of grim newspaper announcements — e.g., the imminent closing of the Ann Arbor News and the Tucson Citizen's ongoing dalliance with oblivion — it would have been unsurprising if the Boston Globe's latest buyout offer, which is limited to newsroom employees, found almost no takers. To state the obvious, this isn't a great time to be out of a job.

So credit the Globe's top brass for making a pro-buyout sales pitch that worked, at least to a degree. According to multiple sources, when the buyout deadline arrived this past Friday, somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 employees had thrown their names into the mix. That won't be enough to reach management's goal of 50 fewer positions and stave off the paper's first-ever round of newsroom layoffs. But it will be enough to keep those layoffs from being quite as ugly as they might have been.

Still, once the buyouts are finalized, they'll claim both one of the paper's best-known writers and one of its most powerful administrators. The writer in question is Gail Caldwell, the Globe's chief book critic (and a onetime Phoenix contributor). At the Globe, Caldwell won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, which makes her the third Pulitzer winner to leave the paper in the past two years, following columnist Eileen McNamara and legal-affairs reporter Charles Savage.

The administrator, meanwhile, is Mary Jane Wilkinson, the paper's managing editor for news administration and one of editor Marty Baron's top two lieutenants (along with managing editor for news Caleb Solomon). "It was a very difficult decision — I've been here 26 years, and the Globe means a lot to me," says Wilkinson. "But I'd been thinking for some time about early retirement, so when the buyout came along, it made sense for me to consider it."

The buyout applicants who spoke with the Phoenix had varying plans for their futures. Wilkinson says she'll travel with her husband and spend time with her grandchildren; education-editor-turned-reporter Linda K. Wertheimer plans to finish a memoir on grief and faith; health-care reporter Jeffrey Krasner is launching his own consulting firm. But all of them are leaving the Globe with a measure of volition. When the layoffs begin — possibly as early as this week — their pink-slipped successors won't be so fortunate.

Related: Red all over, Extreme makeover: Globe edition, Rescuing the Globe, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Eileen McNamara, Business, Jobs and Labor,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BULLY FOR BU!  |  March 12, 2010
    After six years at the Phoenix , I recently got my first pre-emptive libel threat. It came, most unexpectedly, from an investigative reporter. And beyond the fact that this struck me as a blatant attempt at intimidation, it demonstrated how tricky journalism's new, collaboration-driven future could be.
  •   STOP THE QUINN-SANITY!  |  March 03, 2010
    The year is still young, but when the time comes to look back at 2010's media lowlights, the embarrassing demise of Sally Quinn's Washington Post column, "The Party," will almost certainly rank near the top of the list.
  •   RIGHT CLICK  |  February 19, 2010
    Back in February 2007, a few months after a political neophyte named Deval Patrick cruised to victory in the Massachusetts governor's race with help from a political blog named Blue Mass Group (BMG) — which whipped up pro-Patrick sentiment while aggressively rebutting the governor-to-be's critics — I sized up a recent conservative entry in the local blogosphere.
  •   RANSOM NOTES  |  February 12, 2010
    While reporting from Afghanistan two years ago, David Rohde became, for the second time in his career, an unwilling participant rather than an observer. On October 29, 1995, Rohde had been arrested by Bosnian Serbs. And then in November 2008, Rohde and two Afghan colleagues were en route to an interview with a Taliban commander when they were kidnapped.
  •   POOR RECEPTION  |  February 08, 2010
    The right loves to rant against the "liberal-media elite," but there's one key media sector where the conservative id reigns supreme: talk radio.

 See all articles by: ADAM REILLY