Globe’s Leung to write a business column

Shirley Leung

Shirley Leung

Boston Globe business editor Shirley Leung is stepping aside in order to become a twice-a-week business columnist, according to the Globe’s Beth Healy. Editor Brian McGrory’s email to the staff follows.

I am delighted to announce that Shirley Leung has decided to become a business columnist for the Globe, giving our readers a fresh, creative, intelligent voice on matters of industry and the economy twice each week.

This is a huge development. You know as I know that Shirley literally exudes ideas, her hands always fluttering as if she’s trying to give them air. She recently became frustrated that people weren’t giving out their email addresses quite so readily, so we quickly had a front page story, the most widely read of the day. She heard about an auction of parking spaces in the Back Bay, and sure enough, the page one story that resulted — $560K for a pair of weed-strewn tandem spaces — was the talk of the town.

Now she’ll take her ideas, or at least many of them, and put them under her own name, presented in what I know will be a personable and blunt column-writing style, brimming with her unique experience and exhaustive reporting.

I’ve made no secret of my belief that good columnists are utterly critical to our mission, and have expressed my desire to add even more strong voices to our daily report to complement the ones we already have. The Business pages have been a priority, and as I looked near and far, I came to realize that the absolute best candidate might have been sitting in the editor’s chair — or more accurately, at home with a newborn during a maternity leave.

Shirley’s background is tailor-made for such a pivotal role. She was on a brief tryout at the Globe in 1995 when she was handed a tip scrawled on a piece of paper about a former state representative who became homeless after losing a fortune in the real estate crash. Others might have dismissed it. Shirley camped out in the guy’s hometown, got him, and wrote a Sunday front page story. She was, of course, hired. Old friend Caleb Solomon, then running the Boston bureau of the Wall Street Journal, lured Shirley away in 1997 to cover the wrangling over the Seaport District and the proposal to build a convention center. Shirley continued on to the Journal’s Los Angeles and Chicago bureaus, working a variety of beats from the California economy to fast food. Caleb, Caleb, as the Globe’s business editor, lured her back to Boston in 2004 as the Sunday business editor.

By 2007, Shirley was the business editor, soon overseeing coverage of the Great Recession, the housing bust, scary fluctuations in the stock markets, the rise of the Seaport, the $700 billion bank bailout, chronic unemployment, and the stagnant economy. She has been nothing shy of masterful at working with veteran reporters, spotting great talent, and developing sophisticated ideas in the throes of the ongoing economic storm. Then add in the stellar projects on Upper Crust, mislabeled fish, illegal workers, and child pornography, some of them garnering major national awards. That being not quite enough, Shirley built “Top Places to Work” into a profitable franchise and launched the boston.com innovation blog “The Hive,” which we are expanding.

On the personal side, Shirley is 41, married to Paul Lim, an editor at Money magazine, and they have two sons, Eli, who is 2-and-a-half, and Evan, who is six months.

Shirley will begin her column next week, her days being Wednesday and Friday. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come. Make sure you give her your congratulations. At the same time, be warned. Like any good columnist, Shirley will undoubtedly take the opportunity to shake you down for ideas.

Chris Chinlund and I will get to work selecting the next business editor. I have every expectation the position will stay in-house, and don’t expect the process will be a long one.