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Globe editor Martin Baron to become executive editor of The Washington Post

Martin Baron, the editor of The Boston Globe who oversaw the news organization when it won six Pulitzer Prizes over the past decade, will become the executive editor of The Washington Post in January, both papers said Tuesday.

The Globe will launch a national search to fill Baron’s job, said Christopher M. Mayer, publisher of the Globe. While citing the talent within the newsroom, he said he would also consider outside candidates. Mayer said his goal is to fill the position as quickly as possible.

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“We’re looking for the right person at the right time to really carry on the quality journalism that’s the embodiment of everything we are doing today,” said Mayer in an interview.

Mayer said Baron built a talented staff and leaves a strong legacy. “Marty is a terrific editor who led the newspaper in a tremendous and creative fashion in a challenging time.”

Baron, 58, said in an interview that he was proud of what the Globe staff had accomplished under his tenure. He cited its investigative reporting, arts coverage, narrative journalism, and war reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as its push into digital and multimedia formats.

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“I am especially proud that we have consistently held powerful institutions and individuals accountable,” he said.

Baron said, “We’re on solid footing here at the Globe. The Globe has a good future ahead of it. And for me, it’s a good time for a change.”

Baron said it was premature to discuss his plans for the Post until he has talked with its leaders and staff. But he said his goal was to maintain its journalistic integrity as it moves into a new era.

“We have to prepare ourselves for the future,” he said. “We are facing a digital future. It holds great promise for us but also great challenges.”

Baron said he was excited to join the Post -- the legendary newspaper that covers Washington DC and broke the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

“The Post has played a distinctive and defining role in American politics, American policy, world affairs, and its own community, as well as an inspiring role in journalism,” Baron said.

“We are thrilled to have Marty Baron lead The Washington Post’s newsroom,” said Katharine Weymouth, publisher of the Post. “He has a demonstrated record of producing the highest quality journalism, which matches the legacy and expectations of The Post.”

Baron succeeds Marcus Brauchli, who will step down as executive editor, effective Dec. 31. Brauchli will take on a new role as vice president of The Washington Post Co., to review and evaluate new media opportunities.

According to a story on the Post’s website, Brauchli was the first non-Post employee in generations to take the helm of the newsroom. But in recent months, according to the story, there had been tensions between the Post publisher and Brauchli over several issues including the newsroom’s annual budget.

Shortly before noon, Baron called a staff meeting in the Globe newsroom to make the announcement. There had been widespread speculation for weeks that he was on a short list to become the next editor of the Post.

“I thought I’d confirm a rumor,” he said to laughter from the many dozens of reporters and editors who had gathered.

Baron went on to say, “I also wanted to share with all of you just how grateful I am to have worked with you for the past 11 and a half years. For me, this has been the most fulfilling chapter of my professional career. It just has been extraordinary.”

Calling his departure “bittersweet,” Baron said going to the Post is “a great opportunity. I’m going to another great news organization, one that has had a defining role in American journalism. Its own journalism has inspired the rest of us to be equally ambitious.”

Under Baron, the Globe’s six Pulitzers have included 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.

Baron also oversaw the Globe newsroom during an extraordinary period of transformation for the newspaper industry, as readers and advertisers flocked to the Internet for information. The shift has forced the Globe and media organizations around the country to build a robust web presence.

Baron helped build Boston.com into the region’s leading news website and among the nation’s largest newspaper websites with more than six million monthly unique visitors. Last year Baron also oversaw the launch of BostonGlobe.com, a subscription-only news website.

Just this year the Globe and Boston.com have won numerous multimedia awards including six national Edward R. Murrow Awards in the competition sponsored by the Radio Television Digital News Association, and three EPPY awards in the competition sponsored by Editor & Publisher magazine.

Prior to the Globe, Baron served as executive editor of The Miami Herald, and under his leadership, the paper won the Pulitzer for breaking news coverage in 2001 for the raid of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an immigration custody battle.

A native of Tampa and a Lehigh University graduate who speaks fluent Spanish, Baron has also held high-level jobs at The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. In 2001, Baron was named “Editor of the Year” by Editor & Publisher magazine.

Under Brauchli, the Post won four Pulitzer Prizes -- for international reporting, feature writing, criticism, and breaking news photography.

The Post has a daily circulation of just under 500,000 and Sunday circulation of 675,000. The Globe has a daily circulation of about 230,000, and a Sunday circulation of about 372,000.

Robert Weisman can be reached at weisman@globe.com.
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