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

Three Globe stalwarts move on

Brian Mooney. I took this photo in late 2007 at a Rudy Giuliani campaign event in New Hampshire. He was covering it for the Globe and I for the The Guardian.

Brian Mooney at a Rudy Giuliani campaign event in New Hampshire in 2007.

One morning in February 2000, I was killing time at a conference center in South Carolina, where I had showed up at a campaign event for George W. Bush. Sitting on the carpeted floor, banging away at his laptop, was Glen Johnson, then with the Associated Press.

I was covering the media campaign. The press that year was in love with the insurgent Republican, John McCain, whose caravan I had connected with earlier in the week. Johnson and I talked.

“The Bush people really feel that McCain has gotten a free ride, or an easier ride than Bush has,” he told me. It was a telling quote, and it made its way into the story I was writing for The Boston Phoenix.

Johnson, who worked two stints each at the AP and The Boston Globe, got his start in Massachusetts at The Sun of Lowell and The Salem News. On Thursday, he announced that he was leaving the Globe, where he was politics editor of, in order to take a senior position with incoming Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It is a humbling opportunity, especially in these turbulent times,” Johnson wrote, “but one that I embrace with relish.”

And thus departs another piece of the Globe’s institutional memory.

The big departure during the past year, of course, was that of Globe editor Marty Baron, now executive editor of The Washington Post. But other veterans have continued to trickle out as well, with Johnson being only the latest.

Two more who will be missed:

• Brian Mooney, a longtime political reporter who covered the national, state and local scenes with aplomb. Mooney is as accomplished a writer as he is a reporter.

I still remember a piece he wrote on former Boston mayor Ray Flynn’s frenzied Primary Day sprint in his failed 1998 congressional campaign, and I wish it were freely available online. Mooney was also an outspoken union advocate when, in 2009, the New York Times Co. threatened to shut down the Globe unless it could use Garcinia Cambogia extract for some $20 million in union givebacks. (The Times Co. eventually got its way.) I still consider this to be a legendary moment in Media Nation history.

Mooney stuck around for one last presidential campaign and retired shortly thereafter. Several weeks later we found ourselves sitting next to each other at a Harvard event honoring the late Globe columnist David Nyhan, and Mooney clearly seemed to be enjoying himself.

• Alex Beam, a veteran lifestyle columnist who was among the Globe’s very few writers who could make you laugh. Beam took a book leave last year and decided during a round of downsizing that he’d rather retire than go back.

In 2003 Beam wrote a column about three writers named Dan Kennedy. I’m DK1, and he describes the dilemma I faced launching a book alongside a get-rich-quick artist (DK3) and a humorist with a McSweeney’s connection (DK2).

“I planned to stay on the deck ’til the ship went down, but managers apparently wanted the budget cut more,” he recently told me via Facebook. “We were all ‘targeted’ for ‘voluntary’ buyouts, and many were happy to have them.”

• Finally, the paper’s terrific editorial cartoonist, Dan Wasserman, has sort of left, but not in a way that will affect readers. He has retired from the Globe, but continues to work out of 135 Morrissey Blvd. as a contract contributor.

“More freedom for me, less overhead for the paper,” Wasserman told me, also via Facebook. “I do a Sunday local cartoon and continue to draw syndicated cartoons that the Globe picks up several times a week.”

More: I’m a political junkie, not a movie buff. But I shouldn’t let pass the opportunity to note that Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris departed for Grantland recently.

Photo (cc) by Dan Kennedy. Some rights reserved.

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  1. These are are significant losses that, combined with the shifting finances of the paper, make it a shadow of its former self.

  2. Laurence Glavin

    The departure of Alex Beam is a surprise to me. I knew he was on sabbatical for a book, but I did expect him to return. I frequently emailed him on the content of his columns and he ALWAYS replied courteously.

  3. I wonder how many of the youngster metro reporters know who Kevin White was (or even Ray Flynn!).

    Question: you’re a metro editor at the Globe with a fresh faced reporter at your desk. What books do you recommend they read to get up to speed?

    Top of my list: Common Ground, J Anthony Lukas.

  4. While two of them will be missed, is there any way I can contribute a foot to help kick Alex Beam out the door any faster?

  5. cynthiastead

    Glen Johnson was a biased piece of work. His status as an allegedly ‘neutral’ reporter for the AP lent his work a credibiltiy it did not deserve. I’m glad he’s revealed his spritual home as a Democrat hack.

  6. It’s understandable but you fail to mention that, like Johnson and even more so, Mooney cut his teeth as a political reporter,
    at The Lowell Sun. All politics is local, and it’s a lesson he learned in Lowell.

  7. Jim Chiavelli

    Johnson always has been a top-notch reporter as well as a gentleman – first out the door when the scanner chirped, good, quick writer and a smart guy, and a guy who wrote notes to the copy desk thanking them for making his stuff better. Had the honor of working with him in Lowell and, more recently, of hosting him for a forum on religion and politics at Merrimack College – along with the equally classy Dan K – that students still buzz about.

    You can find, if you look back a few months, a simple car-crash story by the Globe political editor because he was on his way to work and he can’t help himself; he’s a reporter.

    That said, the Kerry connection surprised me a bit – does anyone else remember candidate Kerry being ripped that Johnson broke the prostate cancer story before Kerry could get it out himself? Guess time heals all wounds.

    As for ‘biased piece of work,’ well, you see what you’re looking for. I see a guy who dug into Kerry, dug into Romney, dug into everyone in between.

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