Whether Peter could do the same under similarly adverse circumstances is an open question. That she's admired in the newsroom is clear: staffers who spoke with the Phoenix cited her intelligence, writing ability, and poise under pressure, and praised her recent appointment of new City Editor Paulson — a respected reporter who emerged as a unifying newsroom figure during last year's shutdown threat — as a brilliant first move. Still, as another staffer puts it, "She's not the personality Brian is."
For her part, Peter seems to see her mandate as continuing (and in some cases enhancing) the McGrory era, rather than making stark changes in coverage or newsroom culture. "We have a pretty smoothly running operation," she tells the Phoenix. "I don't see my mission as coming in here and shaping things up."
In a best-case scenario, of course, Peter won't need to bolster morale the way McGrory did. It's possible that, thanks to an assortment of factors — the concessions the Times Co. wrung from the Globe's unions last year, Mayer's confident business-side leadership, and the anticipated uptick in the economy and advertising activity — the Globe simply won't experience another protracted crisis like the one it saw last year.
You don't have to be a pessimist, though, to brace for a time when Peter will have to channel McGrory's morale-boosting skills. During last year's union negotiations, after all, management successfully fought for the elimination of the lifetime-job guarantees previously enjoyed by hundreds of Globe staffers. What's more, the no-new-layoffs provision, written into the Guild's current contract last year, expired on January 1.
During our conversation, Mayer stresses that — contrary to something I recently wrote — any decision to pare down the Globe's workforce would come from him, not from New York. Which raises the question: are more layoffs looming?
Mayer doesn't say yes — but he doesn't say no, either. "I think we're in a good place to continue our momentum," he replies. "But at the end of the day, efficiency continues to be something we pursue. Any business has to do that." And so does any publisher, however deep his Boston roots may be.
To read the "Don't Quote Me" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/dontquoteme. Adam Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.