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.