By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Robinson coming to NU

Romenesko has already got the documents online, so I’ll just link. Here is Northeastern University’s announcement that Boston Globe Spotlight Team editor Walter Robinson is joining the faculty. Here is Globe editor Marty Baron’s memo to the staff.

Baron sums up what this means pretty succinctly: “Northeastern, his alma mater, could not hope for a more stellar recruit to its faculty, and I can’t imagine a more gut-wrenching loss for the Globe.” Robinson, though, will continue to have an affiliation with the Globe.

Robinson is a legendary reporter, with notches in his belt going back at least to Ed King, who served one scandal-plagued term as governor from 1979 to ’82. Robinson goes out with a bang, overseeing this week’s “Debtors’ Hell” series. He’s probably best known for his work on the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal, for which the Globe won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003.

Robinson had this to say in an e-mail:

To my friends and colleagues:

When I started at the Globe in 1972, all fumblefingers and fearful that I would be broomed out the door as soon as it became apparent that I couldn’t really type, the city editor who hired me, Matt Storin, gave me a desk and a chair next to a City Room veteran with a good B.S. detector. And my desk-mate quickly concluded that Matt had made a bad hire. “Kid,” is what he called me, as he did one day when he told me that I wasn’t going to last very long.

So I’ve fooled them for longer than I thought possible. After 34 years, it’s time for me to try my hand at something else. I’ve had enormous good fortune to have worked at such a great newspaper, and to have had far more great assignments than anyone deserves in a career. It’s time for me to make an effort to give something back, for all that has been given to me. So, starting in January, I will join the journalism faculty at Northeastern University, where I will be teaching reporting techniques, with a focus on investigative reporting.

Which is not to say that I am leaving the Globe entirely. I will remain as a part-time consultant to Marty Baron, our editor. I will continue to do some reporting and writing. But my primary focus will be to work with other members of the staff who have investigative reporting ideas.

That’s the headline. The text of the story is in Marty’s note to the staff; and the Northeastern announcement, attached.

With regards,


With the “Debtors’ Hell” series out of the way, perhaps Robinson can spend his remaining time at the Globe riding herd on the Big Dig story — and help the paper overcome the institutional embarrassment it’s now going through over that apparently phony memo.

A personal note: Early in his career, Robinson taught a few journalism classes at Northeastern while working at the Globe. I just missed out on having him as a professor, and I’m sure I’d be a better journalist if I’d wound up in his classroom. Now, more than 30 years later, we’ll be colleagues.

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Thoughts on that memo


Further thoughts on that memo


  1. MeTheSheeple

    Sooooo, as a project for the Globe, he’s writing a how-to guide for getting information. Think MediaNation can work its magic and swing a copy? =)

  2. Anonymous

    I had the misfortune of trying to get the AG’s office interested, (5 years ago!)in the hiring practices of building maintenance firms (and not just the immigration status of the workers). I was blown off, like the debtor in the Globe article. Reilly’s ads about “fighting for consumers” make me want to vomit.

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