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

The Globe’s ancien regime makes a comeback

Christopher Mayer

Christopher Mayer

I have no particular insight into Boston Globe publisher Steven Ainsley’s retirement announcement, or why senior vice president Christopher Mayer was chosen as his replacement. But I do think Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix gets at two important possible reasons.

First, Mayer, despite being just 47, is a holdover from the Taylor regime. That might prove reassuring to the jittery Globe newsroom, especially given that a group led by former Globe executive Stephen Taylor recently fell short in its attempt to buy the paper back from the New York Times Co.

Second, Mayer is described in Beth Healy’s Globe story as “an architect” of the recent dramatic price increase, which, despite plummeting circulation, reportedly led to an 18.4 percent rise in circulation revenue at the Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette during the third quarter.

More than anything, I’m reminded of editor Matt Storin’s retirement in the summer of 2001. Earlier in the year, Storin presided over what had been up to that time the most wrenching downsizing in the paper’s history. By sticking around until after all the blood had been spilled, Storin gave Marty Baron a chance to start with a clean slate.

Though we don’t know whether Ainsley’s retirement is voluntary, it strikes me that he performed the same role during this year’s labor-management war that Storin did in 2001.

Finally, Ainsley showed a sense of humor, though I suspect it was inadvertent. According to Healy’s story, Ainsley “is interested in nonprofit work.” Insert cymbal crash.

Ralph Ranalli has further thoughts at Beat the Press. At the Boston Herald, Jessica Heslam and Christine McConville note that Ainsley made $1.9 million last year. A good job at a good wage, for sure.

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  1. Newshound

    Ainsely’s current compensation should have been cut to the average of all non-management employees’ pay since those who work to actually produce the product were asked to make a sacrifice of much lower wages.

    An increase in circulation revenue at the expense of lower circulation means the paper is moving towards a reader instead of advertising base. Quite a risk. In particular, because the popularity is diminishing with readers and thus, with advertisers.

    Of course, smaller and profitable is much better than larger and losing. It is their gamble.

    Some executives with non-profits are very well, often too well, paid. Mr. Ainsley has groomed himself well for that role – in particular – the big compensation part.

  2. George Williams

    Where is the outrage at The Globe over Ainsley’s huge salary while the paper is losing massive amounts of money and the actual workers have had salaries and benefits slashed? I agree with Newshound that “smaller and profitable is much better than larger and losing” but The Globe seems to be smaller and losing. I have subscribed since 1956 and plan on replacing my daily Globe with the Wall Street Journal. I’ll keep a Sunday subscription to The Globe (right now the food coupons make that a profitable move).

    Ainsley, as well as the rest of the management, should be sharing in the cutbacks.

  3. InsiderNegot

    There has been plenty of outrage at Ainsley’s salary.

    Wall Street is closing its Boston Bureau.

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