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John Henry assumes role of Globe publisher, names CEO

John Henry (left) and Mike Sheehan hope to boost ad revenue at the Globe.

Well-known Boston advertising executive Mike Sheehan will become chief executive of The Boston Globe, and the newspaper company’s new owner, John Henry, will assume the role of publisher, in a pair of moves intended to remake the leadership on the business side of New England’s largest newspaper.

Henry, who bought the Globe and its websites from the New York Times Co. in October, becomes the ninth publisher in the paper’s 141-year history. Sheehan will oversee all day-to-day business operations at the Globe while Henry concentrates on strategy.

Sheehan, 53, is the former CEO of Boston advertising giant Hill Holliday. Since earlier this month, he has been serving as a consultant to the Globe on how to boost advertising revenue.


“I wanted to leverage what I had learned over 30 years in the advertising business and apply it in a different way,’’ Sheehan said. “It’s an incredible opportunity. There isn’t another media property in New England that offers the readership or the viewership of the Globe.’’

Henry, who also is principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, said he will be actively involved in the business direction of the Globe, as well as broader oversight.

“My main role as publisher is to ensure that the Globe has the right management, and that management has the resources to accomplish its mission,” Henry said. He reiterated his commitment to focusing on improving the company’s business results, and to steer clear of making decisions about news coverage.

The new leadership comes after former Globe publisher Christopher Mayer stepped down this month following four years at the helm. He was widely credited with helping steer the Globe through a difficult period and successfully managing the transition after the sale by the Times Co.

Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, said Henry’s decision to take the publisher’s title was both a nod to an earlier era and a sign he plans to be engaged in managing the business. By naming a chief executive as well, Benton said, he is bringing a model from the corporate world to the Globe.


“We’re in a very different era now, where the business questions are existential,’’ he said. “You would want someone who comes from a business management position, and particularly from advertising.’’

Sheehan grew up in Weymouth and began his career as sports editor of the Weymouth News. He worked in the Globe’s news library while attending St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., and was a reporter for The Patriot Ledger of Quincy shortly after he left school.

Sheehan said he officially retired last week as chairman of Hill Holliday, a role he had held since stepping down as chief executive there in May. Sheehan is treasurer of the One Fund Boston, the charitable foundation set up to aid victims of last year’s Boston Marathon attacks.

In addition to the Globe and its websites, Henry bought the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and related businesses from the Times Co. He has said he intends to sell those properties.

Beth Healy can be reached at