Former Boston Globe Media Partners (BGMP) president Vinay Mehra has filed an explosive lawsuit against the company, charging that he was fired in 2020 because Globe owners John and Linda Henry didn’t want to pay him the commissions and other compensation he’d earned for transforming the newspaper into a profitable operation. Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub has all the details as well as a copy of the suit.
Mehra was hired in 2017 from Politico, where he was executive vice president and chief financial officer. Before that, he worked as chief financial officer at GBH in Boston from 2008 to 2015.
According to the lawsuit, BGMP owes Mehra more than $12 million in lost commissions, wages and other compensation. Gaffin writes:
In his suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Mehra charges that despite returning the Globe to profitability, John Henry and his corporate minions decided to cheap out — and then ousted him after threatening and lying about him with an unquenchable “thirst for vengeance” sending him a termination letter alleging “fraud, misappropriation, embezzlement or acts of similar dishonesty.”…
At this point we’re only getting one side of the story, as BGMP has not yet filed a response. But if Mehra’s numbers are accurate, then the lawsuit provides some insight into how the Globe transformed itself into one of the country’s most financially successful large regional newspapers. In 2019, for instance, Mehra claims that the Globe implemented $10 million in cuts “through a combination of targeted layoffs, reduction in vendor costs, reduction in distribution costs, and other measures.”
The result, Mehra claims, was a turnaround from a money-losing operation to one that was enjoying a positive cash flow of “tens of millions of dollars” by the time he left. Indeed, it was at the end of 2018 that John Henry told me, unexpectedly, that the Globe had achieved profitability. “As our digital growth continues the sustainability of a vibrant Boston Globe is coming into view,” he said at that time. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Mehra apparently expects BGMP to flesh out its accusations of fraud and embezzlement as the case moves forward, as he offers some details in what might be regarded as a pre-emptive strike. The lawsuit also includes a statement that I suspect former Globe editor Brian McGrory might disagree with: “He [Mehra] also shifted the focus of the Globe’s reporting to be more strategic, to prioritize the Globe’s strengths, and to drive viewership.”
That sounds a lot like McGrory’s January 2017 memo to the staff in which he talked about repositioning the Globe’s coverage, which I wrote about in “The Return of the Moguls”:
The most important takeaway was that the Globe would no longer attempt to be a “paper of record,” publishing obligatory stories about the minutiae of city and state government, the courts, and the like. Rather, it would seek to become an “organization of interest,” developing enterprise stories out of those traditional areas of coverage that made more of a difference to readers’ lives.
But Mehra didn’t join BGMP until six months after McGrory wrote that memo. No doubt he and McGrory had conversations about how to make the Globe more compelling to its audience. The shift in focus that the lawsuit talks about, though, had already taken place, and in any case fell under the purview of the editor, not the president.
It will be interesting to see how the Globe responds — and, of course, whether this goes to trial or is instead settled out of court.