Boston Globe publisher Christopher Mayer to step down

Christopher Mayer
Christopher Mayer

Boston Globe publisher Christopher Mayer said Wednesday that he plans to step down after nearly 30 years at the newspaper and four years at its helm, as part of a business transition under new owner John Henry.

“It’s a new year and with it comes the promise of change,’’ Mayer said in an e-mail to employees. “New ownership brings the opportunity of greater investment in the business and a new way to look at tackling the challenges that face us.’’

Henry, who acquired the Globe from the New York Times Co. in October, has said he plans to hire a chief operating officer as he restructures the top of the organization. He has asked Mayer to stay on as a senior adviser “indefinitely.”

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Mayer has been publisher of the Globe and its websites since 2010, leading the company out of a turbulent period during which the Times Co. had threatened to shut down the paper, and returning the Globe to profitability.

“We are in Chris’s debt, for his nearly three decades of service and extraordinary leadership guiding the Globe through its most challenging days, and for the professional way he has overseen this major transition,” Henry said.

A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Yale University, Mayer has overseen numerous business initiatives to keep the Globe’s journalism flourishing amid a difficult market for US newspapers. Notably, he has overseen the Globe’s online expansion through BostonGlobe.com, a paid subscription-based site, and Boston.com.

“Both of us will work together to make sure this is a smooth transition,’’ Mayer said, referring to Henry. He noted that 2013 was a remarkable year for the Globe, including the paper’s journalism and its smooth transition from Times Co. ownership.

Henry said he believes the Globe has “a very solid foundation” to move forward, despite the continued financial challenges facing major metropolitan papers.

Mayer said there would be no immediate change in the paper’s day-to-day operations. “We have a management structure in place with talented people performing critical functions and initiatives underway,” he said. “ We need to continue on all fronts.”

Henry, speaking at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast earlier Wednesday, expressed optimism about the Globe’s prospects. He pledged to increase revenues and help keep the paper and its websites “aggressively relevant.’’

Henry has already hired Mike Sheehan, a well-known Boston advertising executive, as a consultant. In another move, the Globe on Tuesday said it had hired John Allen from the National Catholic Reporter to work as a correspondent and analyst focused on the Catholic Church and to explore the possibility of a website dedicated to covering Catholicism.