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Brian McGrory named Globe’s new editor

Brian McGrory’s career has been mostly at the Globe.

Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff

Brian McGrory’s career has been mostly at the Globe.

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.

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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.”

Upon being introduced as the new editor Thursday, McGrory­ received prolonged applause from a crowded room of Globe staffers, many of whom have worked alongside him in the newsroom for years. He told them 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.

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“The only thing I ever wanted to do with my career was write for the Globe,” McGrory 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 stood on our patio in Weymouth and cried.”

McGrory becomes the 12th editor in the 140-year history of the Globe.

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.”

McGrory takes the helm 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 print circulation has declined in recent years to about 230,000 for the daily newspaper 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 that now attracts 1.7 million monthly unique visitors.

McGrory said improving the organization’s digital offerings will be a priority, but he intends to emphasize strong enterprise reporting and in-depth coverage of local and national events. He lauded the Globe’s recent project on secrecy within the nation’s immigration system and this week’s “68 Blocks” ­series, a narrative report on life in a troubled section of Dorchester.

“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.”

Thomas Fiedler, dean of Boston University’s College of Communication, said the choice of McGrory underscores the organization’s effort to retain its place as a premier source of metropolitan news, keeping a sharp focus on local coverage and investigative reporting.

“This is an affirmation that the newspaper is committed to Boston,” Fiedler said. “I think readers have a sense of who ­Brian McGrory is and what his values are, and I expect him to maintain the Globe’s commitment to being a preeminent news organization in New England.”

Under Baron, McGrory’s predecessor, 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 coverup of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Baron’s 11-year tenure was marked by a period of financial turmoil for the media industry as readers and advertisers flocked to the Internet for news. The Globe, like other news companies, went through several rounds of layoffs, buyouts, and other cost-cutting measures. In 2009, the Globe’s owner, The New York Times Co., threatened to shutter the paper to extract millions of dollars in concessions from its major unions. The Times Co. put the Globe up for sale that year but later took it off the market.

Members of the Globe’s newsroom reacted to McGrory’s appointment with enthusiasm, crowding around his desk in the middle of the Metro section. “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.”

McGrory joined the newspaper in 1989, one of the first reporters hired into what was then called the South Weekly section. He has covered the city as a general assignment reporter and been a White House correspondent and 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 and cronyism on Beacon Hill that led to resignations and indictments of powerful ­officials, including then-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.

In 2010, McGrory stepped down as Metro editor to resume his twice-a-week column, which has remained a must-read. He has also authored four novels and a memoir.

McGrory, raised in Roslindale and Weymouth, received a bachelor’s degree from Bates College in Maine. Early in his career, he worked for the New Haven Register and the Patriot Ledger in Quincy.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.
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