Brian McGrory, a 23-year veteran of The Boston Globe who has led groundbreaking coverage of corruption as an editor and whose columns have made him an essential voice in the region, will become the news organization’s next editor.
McGrory, 51, will take over the job immediately, replacing Martin Baron, who left last week to become editor of the Washington Post. McGrory will report to Globe publisher Christopher M. Mayer.
The move puts New England’s largest media organization under the leadership of a Boston native who has spent most of his career at the Globe. McGrory, who will give up his column in the Metro section, will oversee the editorial direction of the newspaper and its websites, BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com.
“The Globe’s journalism is thriving, and my goal is to inject even more urgency,” McGrory said. “We need to make sure our journalism is relentlessly interesting and important, and we need to do our job with a sense of humanity, a dose of humor, and the courage to hold people in power accountable.”
Mayer said he selected McGrory because of his passion for the region and for his demonstrated skill as a writer and editor.
“Brian has distinguished himself throughout his career,” Mayer said. “He will continue to emphasize the accountability reporting that has been the Globe’s trademark, combined with narrative storytelling that gives readers a strong sense of our unique community.”
Mayer sent an email to staff at 4 pm about the appointment and shortly after held a building-wide meeting during which McGrory received prolonged applause from a crowded room of Globe staffers, many of whom have worked alongside him in the newsroom for years.
“Brian loves this institution, and he’s been spectacularly successful as a columnist,” said Scott Allen, a senior assistant metro editor. “It’s a natural thing for him to step up and lead us forward. I’m really excited about it.”
McGrory told the staff that he was honored to accept the position, recounting that his first job was delivering 52 copies of the Globe on a paper route in Weymouth, where he quickly set his sights on becoming a reporter for the newspaper.
“The only thing I ever wanted to do with my career was write for the Globe,” he said. “When I finally got a job here at age 26 or 27, my parents opened up the Sunday paper that first morning and saw my byline and cried.”
During Baron’s 11-year-tenure, the Globe won six Pulitzer Prizes, for public service, explanatory journalism, national reporting, and criticism. Most notably, the Globe received in 2003 the Pulitzer’s highest honor, the public service award, for a Globe Spotlight team investigation into the cover-up of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
McGrory will become editor as the Globe, like all news organizations, confronts financial challenges brought on by an ever-shifting media landscape, with more and more readers consuming news and information online through a wide variety of formats and devices.
While the Globe’s newspaper circulation has declined in recent years to about 230,000 for the daily and about 372,000 on Sunday, Boston.com ranks among the nation’s largest newspaper websites with 7.6 million monthly unique visitors. Last year the Globe launched BostonGlobe.com, a subscription-only website, which now has 1.7 million monthly unique visitors.
McGrory said improving the organization’s digital offerings will be a priority, but that he intends to keep a sharp focus on producing compelling journalism.
“What I want is more digging, more narrative journalism, more reporting that holds people accountable and more enterprise stories on the front page,” he said. “It’s the quality of the journalism that will drive us.”
McGrory joined the newspaper in 1989 as one of the first reporters hired into the South Weekly section. He has covered the city as a general assignment reporter, served as a White House correspondent, and as a roving national correspondent. In 1998, he became a metro columnist, and his work quickly gained a robust audience, enlightening readers about the quirks and character of the region and holding public officials and business leaders accountable. In 2011, he won a Scripps Howard Award for his columns.
In 2007, McGrory was named deputy managing editor for local news. In that role, he oversaw an investigation of corruption of cronyism on Beacon Hill that led to resignations and indictments of powerful officials, including former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi.
McGrory also stressed vivid, thoughtful storytelling in an era of ever-accelerating news cycles. An 8,000-word narrative about a pair of sisters who died in an arson fire in South Boston after years of neglect won the Casey Medal for Meritorious journalism and led to widespread reforms in government services for children.
He was raised in Roslindale and Weymouth and received a B.A. from Bates College in Maine. Early in his career, he worked for the New Haven Register and the Patriot Ledger in Quincy.