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The Boston Globe names NPR news chief Nancy Barnes as its next editor

The 61-year-old has led two other large metro newspapers, and worked as a college intern at the Globe.

Nancy BarnesStephen Voss/NPR

The Boston Globe announced Monday that Nancy Barnes would be its next editor, tapping a deeply experienced journalist who has run major metropolitan newspapers and is currently the chief news executive at NPR.

Barnes, who has strong local roots and was previously the top editor at The Houston Chronicle and Minneapolis Star Tribune, will be the 13th editor in the Globe’s 150-year history and the first woman to serve in that role.

“Nancy is renowned for her commitment to high-quality journalism, her excellent leadership skills, and her passion for innovation,” Linda Henry, chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, said in a statement. “She not only brings the leadership experience of being the top editor of two different metro newspapers, but she also transitioned to running a digital and audio newsroom that has been an industry leader in connecting with new and vast audiences.”

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Barnes will start on Feb. 1, succeeding Brian McGrory, who said in September that he would step down after 10 years to become chair of the journalism department at Boston University and to return to column-writing at the Globe.

“The Globe has long been one of the nation’s most respected news organizations,” Barnes said in the statement. “I am thrilled and honored to partner with its talented staff during a time of such exciting transformation and innovation in the industry. It’s a great opportunity that rarely comes along.”

Barnes, 61, was born in Cambridge, lived in Wilmington as a young girl, interned at the Globe while in college at the University of Virginia, and later worked as a reporter at The Lowell Sun.

She is the first top editor to be hired at the Globe since John and Linda Henry bought the paper from the New York Times Co. in 2013. McGrory was in the job at the time, and the Henrys kept him in place.

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“Barnes has pretty big shoes to fill. Her credentials would make me think that she’s capable of filling them,” said Dan Kennedy, a professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.

Barnes joined National Public Radio four years ago as senior vice president for news and editorial director, overseeing more than 500 journalists and executives worldwide.

During her tenure, Barnes expanded NPR’s investigative and enterprise reporting, as well as its coverage of climate change, race and social justice, and threats to American democracy. She also committed significant resources to cover the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

NPR last year won its first Pulitzer Prize, in collaboration with two member stations, for an investigative podcast about gun rights activists.

Barnes said in September that she would leave the network, citing a decision by NPR’s chief executive officer to create a more senior position to oversee both news and programming, the latter of which includes podcasts and shows such as “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!”

Before joining NPR, Barnes served as senior vice president and executive editor of Hearst Corp.’s Houston Chronicle from 2013 to 2018. She also oversaw Hearst’s San Antonio Express-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, along with a chain of weekly newspapers and digital websites.

The Chronicle won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, the organization’s first-ever Pulitzer, and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2017 and 2018.

Prior to that, Barnes spent more than a decade at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she was assistant managing editor for business and a deputy managing editor before being named executive editor in 2007.

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Barnes serves on the Pulitzer Prize Board and the Peabody Awards’ East Coast board of directors.

In an interview, Barnes said that while she has run other big metro papers, she sees the Globe as a unique opportunity.

“Every time you take a job, it’s different, the stories are different, the community is different,” she said. “And my intent is to come in and get to know everybody, to get to know how the newsroom operates, the big issues that you’re facing, and then come up with a strategy going forward.”

Barnes has family in the area, and said she is looking forward to living here.

“I still have my ID from when I was a Boston Globe intern,” she said.


Larry Edelman can be reached at larry.edelman@globe.com. Follow him @GlobeNewsEd.