Globe publisher Ainsley to retire; Mayer promoted
Boston Globe Publisher P. Steven Ainsley announced today that he would retire at the end of the year. He will be succeeded by Christopher Mayer, 47, a longtime Globe executive who is currently Senior Vice President of Circulation and Operations for the newspaper.
Ainsley, 56, has been publisher for more than three years and has overseen the business through a tumultuous period. Earlier this year, the Globe's parent, The New York Times Co., threatened to shut down the paper unless it cut costs dramatically and later considered selling the paper.
Ainsley said he was glad to have seen the Globe through to a stronger financial position. "It's been difficult but enormously gratifying,'' he said. "Clearly we've had a lot of work to do here this year. I think we've made extraordinary progress in getting the Globe on sound financial footing."
Mayer, shown in the photo at right, has been with the Globe since 1984 and is the first insider the Times Co. has named as publisher since buying the newspaper from the Taylor family in 1993. In 1999, the Times Co. fired Benjamin Taylor and installed one of its own executives, Richard Gilman, to run the paper. Ainsley succeeded Gilman in September 2006.
Mayer currently oversees a large portion of the Globe's business, including circulation, information technology, production, and distribution. Mayer was an architect of the recent price increase of the Globe, which drove revenue up sharply and helped stabilize the paper's finances. He was previously chief information officer for the New England Media Group, which includes the Globe.
As publisher of the Globe and head of the New England Media Group, Mayer will be responsible for the Globe's website, Boston.com, as well as GlobeDirect, the Globe's direct mail subsidiary. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which the Times is still considering selling, also comes under his purview.
Mayer, a native of upstate New York and a graduate of Yale University, said he is enthusiastic about the Globe's prospects. "It's a big challenge but it's also a great opportunity and a great institution,'' Mayer said.
Asked whether he anticipates making changes at the paper, he said the Globe has "very talented people,'' and that he and his team will be working on strategies to take the Globe into the evolving digital era.
"There's a lot of passion for what we do,'' Mayer said. "The journalism is important, and we need a business model that enables us to continue to do that."
Janet Robinson, chief executive of the Times Co., said the company chose Mayer because he has a proven track record and broad experience across the Globe's operations.
"He has established himself as a very strong leader,'' Robinson said. "He has a very unique ability to tackle very complex projects,'' and has delivered strong results, she said.
Robinson praised Ainsley for his service, calling him "the right leader at the right time'' who shepherded the Globe through a difficult period and groomed its next generation of leaders.
"This is an opportunity for him to really feel great about what he has contributed to the Globe and a wonderful opportunity for him to start a new chapter,'' Robinson said.
Ainsley said he had no immediate plans but is interested in nonprofit work.
Ainsley has been in the newspaper business for 31 years, 27 of those with the Times Co. He came to the Globe in 2006 from Tampa, where he was running the Times Co.'s regional media group.
Ainsley oversaw a series of reductions -- including $20 million in concessions from Globe unions, a cut in pay for managers, and the closing of a Billerica printing plant. In addition, he implemented a strategy to raise revenues by increasing newsstand and home-delivery prices.
Together, the efforts improved the paper's financial results, prompting the Times Co. earlier this month to terminate its efforts to sell the Globe. While the Times Co. posted a loss in the third quarter, circulation revenue at the New England Media Group rose 18.4 percent.
Photo of Mayer: David L. Ryan/Globe Staff