George Merry, a longtime political reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, who died on July 1, is someone I knew slightly. We were both graduates of Northeastern University, and George often attended events organized by our journalism alumni group in the 1980s.
He was a proper gentleman, and though I can’t say I was intimately familiar with his coverage of Massachusetts politics, I could tell from talking with him that he was a fine journalist, fair-minded and curious about the world around him.
Last fall I was reporting a story on the Monitor for CommonWealth Magazine. Monitor executives had just announced they were going to eliminate the daily print edition, going instead with their already-excellent Web site and a new weekly magazine.
Among the angles I wanted to explore was whether it might make sense for the Monitor — which is, after all, based in Boston — to re-establish its local presence at a time when the Globe and the Boston Herald were getting smaller and smaller.
The angle didn’t pan out. But I did have a chance to interview Merry, reaching him by phone at his home in Hyde Park. He clearly wasn’t well, and he labored to speak. Yet he was as courteous and helpful as he could be.
The Monitor, of course, is known for its national and especially its international reporting. Merry, though, told me that the Monitor took its local coverage very seriously at one time, and that it was an ideal training ground for the paper’s stars of the future.
“When I first went on the New England bureau staff, there were at least a dozen reporters,” he said. “I think we brought a different viewpoint. It was a different voice. It wasn’t so commercially oriented.” He added, though, that “it got very expensive to maintain.”
Merry was also skeptical of the Monitor’s plan to eliminate the daily print edition. “The Internet’s a wonderful thing, but I think it’s somewhat of a risk,” he said.
George Merry was not well-known outside of local media and political circles. But he was a good guy and a pro, and he’ll be missed.