Four Globe personnel moves are aimed at bolstering digital

Katie Kingsbury. Photo via. Twitter.

Katie Kingsbury. Photo via Twitter.

Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory this afternoon announced some major moves, and all of them are aimed at bolstering the Globe‘s digital presence. The big news is that Katie Kingsbury will replace David Skok as managing editor for digital. Skok, who’s also vice president for digital, is heading back to his native Canada.

Kingsbury, as McGrory notes below, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and has more recently been editing the Ideas section. I think it’s significant that what she can bring to digital is seen as more urgent than her more traditional work as a writer and editor. Globe print subscribers might also remember that last winter, during the paper’s home-delivery fiasco, Kingsbury was a constant presence on Twitter, where she helped to solve problems and in a few cases delivered papers to customers’ doorsteps.

As always, these memos don’t just magically appear in my inbox. I depend on leaks—and leakers. That means you.

The text of McGrory’s email to the staff follows.

I’m delighted to announce some key personnel moves in the newsroom.

First, Katie Kingsbury will take the role of managing editor, digital.

You know we’re a great news organization when a transformative figure like David Skok can leave and we’re able to fill the void from our own midst with a Pulitzer Prize winning editor of uncommon intellect and unparalleled commitment. Katie is her own weather system, someone who isn’t only a learned digital journalist, but also an entirely natural one. Digital isn’t an added element with Katie; it’s what she does—and always has done. Look no further than her work on Ideas, and her role propelling opinion journalism to the forefront of bostonglobe.com. Linger, especially, on some of the projects she’s helped oversee, particularly our exquisite Make It Stop wraparound and digital presentation that owned the web for the better part of a week. That project would never have happened as it did without Katie driving it forward.

Katie is, at her core, a storyteller, though with a digital soul and spine. She’s spent the better part of her career as a reporter—with Metro in Boston, then with Time in Asia and New York. She arrived in our room in 2013, another smart Peter Canellos hire, as a freelance editorial writer. It took her, what, less that two years to pen that utterly extraordinary series on the plight of fast food workers that earned her the previously mentioned Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 2015. Katie became the Sunday op-ed editor in 2014, and then Ideas editor in 2015. There’s been nothing but unabashed success at every turn.

There’s also a book contract, and a whole lot more, making for a schedule that is virtually unimaginable, and yet it doesn’t seem to matter. Katie is a relentlessly cheerful presence, a world-class colleague who treasures ideas and creativity and seems to have been put on this earth to challenge the status quo.

Katie will start in her new role very soon, and by that I mean whenever she can work out a smooth transition from Ideas with Ellen [Clegg] and her successor.

Second, Jason Tuohey will become the deputy managing editor for audience engagement.

At one level, it’s accurate to say that Jason may be the steadiest human being on the planet, quietly driving bostonglobe.com forward for years such that it’s the single most successful aspect of our entire enterprise, up 20 percent in uniques year over year, topping the 70,000 paid subscriber mark earlier this month, an uncommonly accessible site that always seems to strike just the right note at just the right time.

But even that somehow sells Jason short, because he’s far more than steady. Behind that unflappable demeanor is a brilliant editor and beloved manager who knows the exact levers to push and pull with staff to keep the site humming with readers. There’s nobody in the industry I’ve looked to more for counsel on all things digital, and Jason is always dead on the mark.

In this new role, Jason will continue to have oversight of globe.com. In addition, he’ll be charged with connecting our journalism with the community and larger world in ways that we currently don’t do enough of. He will do outreach. He will also guide the room, with an appropriate emphasis on metrics, as to what works and what doesn’t—topics, tones, times of day, platforms, and so much more. Ideally, sooner rather than later, Jason will have his own team of audience development specialists, and will work with a larger team across the building.

Jason will start in his new role on October 17.

Third, Heather Hopp-Bruce will become design director. Heather is the outrageously talented designer of editorial and Ideas, constantly pushing industry boundaries with provocative sections fronts and projects that have earned her a stunning 11 SND [Society for News Design] awards in the past two years. Think of Heather as an activist designer, not only there at the inception of a piece or project, but immediately helping to shape it, probing and prodding it, and thinking across all platforms. Design, in her view, is a partner, something that comes through week after week, time and again, in her work in Ideas. Her sprawling intellect and boundless energy leads her in many directions. Surfing? She’s rabid, as well as talented. Marksmanship? A champion back in grade school—really. Heather swam across Boston Harbor a couple of years ago and still talks about all the little jelly fish that made it feel like pudding.

None of it got in the way of what has been an extraordinary career as a designer and writer, one that has brought Heather from Montana to San Francisco to Santa Cruz to Seattle, and then to Newsday. She was another brilliant Dan Zedek hire in 2010. She took some time away from journalism to work at a web design firm in Santa Cruz, though in her words, “I realized I could never be happy outside of a newsroom.”

Heather, too, checks off the box of world class colleague. She’ll start in her new role in early November.

Fourth, Lauren Shea has become a dedicated product manager for the newsroom, working hand in hand with our entire editorial team.

Lauren joined the Globe in June of 2014 and she has left an indelible mark on everything that you read and experience on Globe.com ever since. As the head of product for the Globe, Lauren was a driving force in modernizing the look and feel of our website, along with building out new digital advertising products and refining our meter to improve our efforts at more subscriptions. This was on top of her work launching Crux, BetaBoston, and Sports 2.0. Put another way: Lauren gets stuff done.

She now brings her talent solely into the storytelling realm. Along with elevating our special projects, Lauren will identify and build new products that allow us to tell everyday stories in new ways on all platforms. In her prior roles, including at Arnold Worldwide, Lauren has managed digital strategy, user experience/site architecture, visual design, end-to-end software development, and quality assurance testing. And yes, she’s a generous colleague beloved by everyone fortunate enough to work with her.

Again, the very fact that we have a roster like this ready to lead the newsroom ever more into the digital era is a tribute to us all.

Many thanks,

Brian

From the Globe, some needed context on charter schools

The Boston Globe has been notably favorable toward charter schools both on its opinion pages and in its news coverage. But if you oppose Question 2, a referendum that would expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts (as I do), then you’ve got to like two pieces in today’s Globe.

First, a story by David Scharfenberg on a study by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation that claims to show charter schools aren’t draining money from regular public schools notes in the second paragraph that the study was paid for by a pro-charter-school organization:

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation study, paid for by the pro-charter Boston Foundation, shows that per-pupil spending in traditional public schools has grown at about the same rate as per-pupil spending in charter schools over the past five years.

Interestingly, the original version of Scharfenberg’s story, posted online Wednesday, made no mention of the funding. Whatever the reason, I’m glad that he and/or his editors decided to add that important context later on. And by the way: the study actually shows that, in some communities, the financial bite caused by charter schools is pretty serious.

Second, Joan Vennochi observes in her opinion column that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s opposition to the ballot question is likely to be a big deal. Toward the end, Vennochi writes:

I don’t like union resistance to needed reform. But I also dislike charter advocates’ portrayal of union-backed teachers as universally lazy and inept. Of course, parents naturally want the best education for their children and they should be able to choose what that means. But the creation of a two-tiered system betrays the very mission of public education [emphasis added].

That really goes to the heart of the matter. Because the political will doesn’t exist to create great public schools for everyone, charter-school proponents want to create them for a few. It’s just unacceptable.

Disclosure: My wife is a public school teacher and a union member in a community unlikely to be affected if Question 2 is approved.

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Even most conservatives agree that Trump lost bigly

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Photos (cc) 2016 (Trump) and 2015 (Clinton) by Gage Skidmore

Breitbart, the alt-right website whence came Donald Trump’s latest campaign guru, Steve Bannon, is today awash in alt-reality.

Drop in and you will learn that Donald Trump actually picked up more support following Monday night’s debate than did Hillary Clinton; that moderator Lester Holt “lived down to the worst expectations of conservatives” by diving into the tank on Clinton’s behalf; and that Clinton’s shimmy following a particularly unhinged Trump soliloquy went on just a bit too long, “getting awkward toward the end.”

In fact, as most people who watched the debate have concluded, Clinton defeated Trump decisively. To offer just one data point, an instant poll by CNN/ORC showed that viewers thought Clinton won by the lopsided margin of 62 percent to 27 percent. I thought Trump’s bullying, interrupting, scowling, and lying added up to the worst presidential debate performance I’ve seen—and I’ve seen just about all of them starting with Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford in 1976.

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org. And talk about this post at Facebook.

David Skok’s final day at the Globe will be this Friday

David Skok, the Boston Globe‘s managing editor and vice president for digital, will be leaving what he would probably prefer I not refer to as “the paper” this Friday. His departure was announced last July; though Friday will be his last day at the Globe‘s headquarters, he will continue to help editor Brian McGrory with the Globe‘s ongoing reinvention effort for a few more weeks. His farewell to the staff is below.

Hi all,

This Friday will be my last official day at the Boston Globe.

I have accepted a new position in my family’s hometown of Toronto that will begin in early November.

It has been the greatest privilege of my professional life to serve each and every one of you, our readers, the wider community, and of course, this wonderful institution.

You welcomed me with enthusiasm and open arms. From the hallway conversations, to the office visits, and the many meetings, you’ve always been infused with a curiosity that is the hallmark of any living, breathing newsroom.  For that, I say, thank you.

No one encapsulated this kindness better than my counterpart as managing editor, Chris Chinlund. From day one, Chris exhibited warmth, support, and respect for the new “digital guy.” I quickly came to understand that none of this was political, it’s just who she is: A graceful, brilliant editor, a generous mentor and friend, whom I will miss dearly.

Of course, I would never have been in this position had Brian [editor Brian McGrory] not plucked me from relative obscurity in Toronto. Watching and learning from Brian has been the thrill of my career. His passion and loyalty to this community and to all of you in this newsroom is an absolute joy to behold.

I only wish that you all could witness first-hand what I’ve been able to witness from the office next door to our editor. Brian’s courage, patience, tenacity, and most of all, his humanity, will continue to be an inspiration for me long after I’m gone from Morrissey Boulevard. I’ve never met anyone with better news judgment, a greater sense of fairness, humility and determination, than Brian. I count myself among the lucky ones to have worked alongside him, and we are all so lucky to have him in the corner office.

To all the others who I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past three years, from the newsroom to the boardroom, the product team to the engineering team, thank you. A particular note of thanks to [BostonGlobe.com editor] Jason Tuohey, [product director] Lauren Shea, and [team leader/development manager] Joe George. Their leadership, dedication, and talent have made me look so good over the past few years, I’m forever grateful.

The last few months have been especially rewarding for me because I’ve gotten to sit at the helm of the reinvention project, watching, listening, and guiding, as this already talented, motivated, and sophisticated newsroom transforms itself into a newsroom of the future.  The reinvention project leaves me confident and assured that the Boston Globe newsroom has a tremendously bright future.

While I won’t be in the newsroom after Friday, Brian has asked me to remain involved in an advisory capacity on the reinvention project, through the week of October 14th.

I know that change can be hard and uncertainty can be difficult. All we can do is put one foot in front of the other until one day, we can look down from the top of the mountain and see how far we’ve come. This week, I get to do that, and the view is spectacular.

You have turned Globe.com into a powerhouse: Tripling readers and revenues all the while maintaining the fabric of this great journalism institution. Your journalism is vibrant, relevant, and interesting, on all platforms. Your reporting matters as much, if not more, than it ever has to the communities that you serve. You rightly put your readers and your users, first.

If I’ve managed to accomplish anything during my time here, it’s been to hopefully clear away the obstacles to your creativity. You get to paint a bright new future on that canvass.

It will be bittersweet to watch from afar, but I will, with enormous pride.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. What an honor it has been

Please stay in touch

—David

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Debate prep: How to call out a lie without calling it a lie

Lester Holt. Photo (cc) 2016 by Hermann.

Lester Holt. Photo (cc) 2016 by Hermann.

The big question going into tonight’s debate is whether moderator Lester Holt should call out blatant lies by the candidates—and especially by Donald Trump, whose relationship with the truth is tenuous, to say the least.

I don’t think it’s realistic for Holt or the moderators who come after him to act as a real-time fact-checking machine. He’ll have enough to do with keeping Trump and Hillary Clinton on track and making sure they’re both getting more or less equal time. But if someone—again, most likely Trump—tells a whopper, then Holt shouldn’t let it go. It’s all in how he does it. I’ll adopt the wisdom of my fellow Beat the Press panelists Callie Crossley and Jon Keller, who have both said that the way to do it is through tough follow-up questioning.

For instance, Candy Crowley took a lot of heat four years ago for essentially calling Mitt Romney a liar when Romney claimed that it took President Obama many days before he was willing to refer to the attack on Benghazi as “terrorism.” Given the pressures of the moment, I have no real problem with what Crowley said. But here’s what she could have said: “Governor Romney, didn’t the president refer to the attack as an ‘act of terror’ the next day?” Yes, that’s a loaded question, but it’s not an assertion, and Romney would have had an opportunity to respond.

In other words, fact-checking can be done with persistent questioning rather than by calling out BS. Even when it’s BS.

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Early voting? No. Elections are about community.

Photo (cc) 1935 by kheelcenter

Photo (cc) 1935 by kheelcenter

Matt Viser reports in the Boston Globe that some people in Minnesota are already voting—before the first presidential debate has even been held. I don’t like it. I also don’t like absentee voting unless the voter can prove a genuine hardship. Online voting? Uh, no.

Yes, I know that most people have made up their minds about the presidential race, but that’s not the point. There are other races on the ballot. More important, voting is a time when we come together as a community to exercise our democratic rights.

There are ways to make the Election Day better. I’d make it a weekend-long event and ensure that there are enough poll workers in place so that it’s a good experience for everyone. But changing the system so that voting is something you do alone is not the way to go.

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LGBTQ history group to honor Susan Ryan-Vollmar

Susan Ryan-Vollmar

Susan Ryan-Vollmar

I am incredibly excited about this: On Wednesday, October 5, my friend Susan Ryan-Vollmar will be honored by the History Project for her pioneering leadership role in the history of the Boston LGBTQ community.

Susan, who currently runs her own communications consulting business, is a former news editor of the Boston Phoenix and a former editor of the LGBTQ paper Bay Windows. We worked together at the Phoenix for many years, and her time as news editor was the most rewarding and fun period of my 14-year stint.

It was Susan who oversaw Kristen Lombardi’s groundbreaking 2001 coverage of the pedophile-priest crisis in the Catholic Church. It was Susan who led the charge in the Phoenix‘s reporting on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. And it was Susan who excelled at finding the lede in my stories—usually in the third-to-last paragraph of a 3,000-word screed.

From the press release:

From her role in helping bring to light the Boston Archdiocese’s coverup of the sexual abuse of children by priests, to her role as editor of Bay Windows during the public debates on marriage equality in Massachusetts, and her support of LGBTQ movements and issues, Susan displays a consistent dedication to advocacy for the LGBTQ community and a passion for uncovering and exposing the truth. The History Project celebrates the often unacknowledged lives of LGBTQ people throughout history; as the world celebrates those who built upon Susan’s solid, quieter work, we are thrilled to honor her as a true HistoryMaker.

The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at Club Café, at 209 Columbus Ave. in Boston. I’m honored to say that I’ll have a small role. You can buy your tickets by clicking here.