As you’ve probably already heard, Globe editor Marty Baron announced this morning that Kevin Cullen and Yvonne Abraham will take over the metro columns recently vacated by Brian McGrory, the new metro editor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Eileen McNamara, who’s decamped to Brandeis.
This strikes me as smart on two levels, both macro and micro.
Macro is the mere fact that Baron decided to fill the slots — something he’d already said he was committed to doing, but which he might have been tempted to back away from on the theory that scarce resources could better be devoted to local reporting rather than pontificating. Fortunately, Baron realized those columns are popular with readers, and that jettisoning them might save a few pennies now but cost more than a few dollars down the line.
Micro is that Cullen and Abraham are reporters first and foremost, and can be reliably expected to use their new positions to contribute to local coverage. That’s what McGrory and McNamara did when they were on, but I suspect Cullen and Abraham will push even farther in that direction. Along with the incumbent metro columnist, Adrian Walker, who also brings a reporter’s mindset to the job, we can expect the left-hand side of the City & Region front to consistently tell us stuff we didn’t already know.
It’s easy to picture Cullen as a columnist. In fact, some years ago, he wrote a column-like feature for a while. Abraham — a former Phoenix colleague — is harder to peg. But she writes with a strong, distinctive voice, and has handled news and feature stories with equal aplomb. Give her a little time and she’ll be terrific.
Update: Adam Reilly of the Phoenix has some interesting things to say about the move, and offers a first-rate bit of Abraham prose from her Phoenix days. The Weekly Dig snarks predictably, but does make one good point: Peter Gelzinis of the Herald would have been an inspired choice — although, in my view, no more inspired than Cullen or Abraham.