Do you find it more difficult to read a book these days? Or even a long article? Do you catch yourself pausing every so often (OK, make that every few minutes) to see what’s new on Facebook, scroll through Twitter, check email, or possibly all of the above? Has concentration given way to distraction?
Stat, one of Boston Globe owner John Henry’s other media properties, is making a big move. Editor Rick Berke announced today that the health-and-life-sciences news organization is hiring Matthew Herper, a veteran Forbes reporter whom Berke describes as “sensational,” not to mention “supremely talented, versatile and deeply sourced.”
I sometimes describe Henry’s five years of ownership as throwing stuff against the wall to see what will stick. Some ideas, like Crux, launched to cover the Catholic Church, slid onto the floor, though it continues to do well under different ownership. Stat is one of the ideas that has stuck. The project was launched in 2015 with nearly 40 full-time journalists. It’s a bit smaller today (Berke puts the number at around 30), but it appears to be doing reasonably well.
During the past couple of years the emphasis at Stat has been on paid content, a $300-a-year subscription-based model known as Stat Plus. Revenue, Berke told me in an email, is 20 percent ahead of projections. “We’re not breaking even but closer and closer to profitability,” he said. According to Angus Macaulay, Stat’s chief revenue officer, the site is aiming for 10,000 paid subscribers by the end of 2019, and “we’re ahead of that timeline.”
Like Stat, the Globe itself is smaller than it was when Henry first bought it. But Henry continues to invest, if not necessarily on the scale of giving $68 million to Nathan Eovaldi so that he’ll stay with the Red Sox, one of Henry’s other holdings. The Globe is currently restocking its Washington bureau after losing several top people to The Washington Post and The New York Times, Michael Calderone recently reported in Politico. That’s not necessarily where I’d put my money (if I had money). But Globe editor Brian McGrory said at a conference last year that national politics drives readership and paid subscriptions.
In the early days of Stat, there was a lot of coverage aimed at a general audience — and, in fact, stories from Stat still migrate to the Globe on a fairly regular basis. But the paid Stat Plus model means that the site is increasingly targeting health-care professionals. The Herper move sounds like a smart way to appeal to that audience.
The full text of Berke’s message to his staff follows.
I could not be more excited to announce that we have a sensational new colleague: Matthew Herper.
Many of you are familiar with Matt’s work. Over the past 18 years at Forbes, he has distinguished himself as a supremely talented, versatile and deeply sourced reporter with a loyal readership across the health care and science communities. His first cover (with Bob Langreth) was “How the Drug Industry Abandoned Science for Salesmanship.” He went on to write 16 more covers, ranging from a deep look at breakthrough cancer immunotherapies to an early assessment of the potential impact of Bill Gates on vaccine development. This past summer, in one of his most moving recent projects, Matt gave readers an intimate window into the life of Michael Becker, a biotech executive facing end-stage cancer.
Matt also holds the journalistic distinction of having interviewed Elizabeth Holmes and Martin Shkreli on stage the very same day. (That was in their halcyon year.)
For our team of journalistic powerhouses, there is no better recruit. Matt’s interest in revelatory and compelling stories is naturally suited to STAT. He sees himself as writing and reporting from the perspective of a bench scientist, focusing on the researchers who create or study tomorrow’s medicines. He also has a knack for getting some of the most influential names in the life sciences industry to talk with him.
Beyond Matt’s journalistic heft, I see his joining us as a critical step in further ensuring our business success. Presumptuous as it may be, our objective is very clear: to corner the market on smart, must-read journalists writing about health, medicine, and science.
STAT Plus is already growing beyond our projections, and we’re confident that Matt will help us accelerate the expansion of our core business of paying subscribers and sponsors. In addition, Matt will be our point person on the editorial staff as we build out our events business.
Matt’s title will be Senior Writer, Medicine. Like Ed and Damian, he’ll be based in New York. But he has family in the region, and we’ll encourage him to work from HQ as much as he’d like.
Lastly: Matt’s interest in joining us is a testament to our groundbreaking journalism and the business that we have built. One of our biggest draws, he said, is that he’ll get to work with reporters whose work he has admired for years.
“For years, I’ve been saying this is biology’s century,” Matt told me. “Nobody has been covering that giant story better than STAT. I can’t wait to join this amazing team and see what we can do together.”
We can’t wait either. Matt starts in two weeks.
Please welcome our new colleague.
A couple of good-news items from The Boston Globe.
First, the paper is reporting that it has passed the 100,000 level for digital-only subscriptions, a benchmark the paper’s executives had originally hoped to reach by the end of June. Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal has the details.
When I interviewed Globe editor Brian McGrory for “The Return of the Moguls” nearly two years ago, he said the paper would start to look like a sustainable business if it could hit 200,000. My mother always told me that the first 100,000 is the hardest. But the Globe’s digital presence is in the midst of getting an upgrade as it adopts The Washington Post’s Arc content-management system this fall. If the Arc transition goes smoothly, then perhaps another circulation boost will follow.
Second, the Globe is announcing today that it has finally replaced Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Sebastian Smee, who left for the Post nearly a year ago. The Globe’s new critic is Murray Whyte, currently at The Star of Toronto, whose arrival in Boston, I’m told, was delayed because of immigration issues.
In an email to the Globe’s staff, deputy managing editor for arts and newsroom innovation Janice Page and arts editor Rebecca Ostriker call Whyte “a truly extraordinary writer” who “brings a unique combination of keen insight, wide-ranging expertise, superb judgment, and an ability to recognize and write about what really matters.” The full text of their message follows.
We are delighted to announce that Murray Whyte is joining the Globe as art critic, starting next month.
Murray was born in Winnipeg and grew up partly in Calgary, and he will completely understand if you have no idea where those places are (directly north — way north — of Minnesota and Montana, respectively). He’s spent the better part of two decades in Toronto, and the last 10 of those as the art critic at the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper, where he is a recent winner of Canada’s National Newspaper Award, the country’s highest journalistic honor.
As Globe readers will soon learn, Murray is a truly extraordinary writer. He brings a unique combination of keen insight, wide-ranging expertise, superb judgment, and an ability to recognize and write about what really matters. He does not focus on art for art’s sake, but rather connects art to what can make a difference to people living in the world — to society, to ideas, to our culture as a whole.
Murray’s eclectic background also extends beyond arts journalism, including a stint as a producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In fact, he may be the only journalist in North America who has reported from the oil sands in northern Alberta and Uranium City in Saskatchewan as well as the Venice Biennale.
But the visual arts have always been in his bones. As a journalism graduate student at New York University, his refuge was the Museum of Modern Art, where he could exult in the stillness of Mark Rothko or the luminescence of Claude Monet. Art museums, he says, are his version of a walk in the woods — a rejuvenating, almost transcendent communion with the sublime.
He’s also a huge hockey fan — another kind of sublime — and would appreciate any spare tickets when the Calgary Flames come to town, because surely, he says, there can’t be anyone else here as interested in the progress of Dillon Dube on left wing this year. Can there?
Murray will be making his home in the Boston area with his wife, photographer Sian Richards, and their two children. He’ll arrive at the Globe in mid-November. Please join us in giving him a very warm welcome.
Janice and Rebecca
The choice of Shirley Leung to run The Boston Globe’s editorial pages on an interim basis is an interesting one. The paper’s top two editors — the editorial-page editor and the editor of everything else — have traditionally held fairly low-profile positions before their appointment, at least in terms of their public profile. But Leung, a business columnist (and former business editor), is one of the Globe’s most high-profile personalities.
In that respect, the choice of Leung resembles the elevation of Brian McGrory to the top of the masthead in 2012. Unlike his predecessors, McGrory wrote a widely read metro column. At a time when newspapers can hardly afford to give up features that draw readers, that was a significant loss. Likewise, Leung’s column will be missed unless the Globe is able to find a suitable replacement. We can all hope that Leung finds the time to write under her own byline at least occasionally, but that’s going to be tough.
As a columnist, Leung is a provocateur who seems to enjoy taking controversial stands — most notably, advocating for the Olympics to come to town. There’s nothing wrong with an editorial-page editor who likes to think counterintuitively. But she’s now going to have to express her opinions as part of a team that includes the editorial board as well as owners John and Linda Henry.
Leung’s predecessor, Ellen Clegg, who retired last week, served a long time as the interim before finally being named to the job. Clegg led the pages through some significant accomplishments: a redesign of the print section that allowed her to cut the number of unsigned editorials from the traditional three per day to (usually) one; innovative editorial projects on gun violence and other topics; new voices such as Michael Cohen, Renée Graham, Niall Ferguson and Richard North Patterson; and an uptick in web-only content. Leung has large shoes to fill, but my guess is that she’s being groomed as the permanent replacement once her six-month interim stint is up. (Disclosure.)
It’s also interesting that Leung’s appointment comes just after deputy editorial-page editor Marjorie Pritchard led a nationwide campaign to persuade newspapers to editorialize against President Trump’s anti-press rhetoric. Ultimately more than 400 papers signed on. Which means that Leung will be even more closely watched than might have otherwise been the case.
Best wishes to Shirley. The full text of the Globe’s press release is below.
SHIRLEY LEUNG NAMED INTERIM EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
August 20, 2018, The Boston Globe Boston, MA – The Boston Globe announced today that starting August 27th, Shirley Leung will assume leadership for the Editorial Board for the next six months and will be named the interim Editorial Page Editor.
Leung has been a bold voice in Boston. For the past five years, she wrote an impactful, must-read, often counterintuitive column in The Globe’s business section. Prior to that, Leung served as The Globe’s business editor overseeing coverage of the Great Recession. Her experience brings a deep understanding of the business community and connection to the newsroom that will help lead transformation across the organization. Leung will be the fifth woman in The Globe’s 142-year history to hold this position, and the first person of color to do so.
In naming Leung, Linda Henry, The Globe’s Managing Director, said “We need the strength of a courageous thinker, someone who knows both the newsroom and the world of opinion well, and who knows how to challenge assumptions, and while I am reluctant to lose her column, I could not be more excited about this new role for her. “ Henry added, “I am proud of the board’s progress and bold initiatives, and look forward to the board becoming an even more vibrant voice serving our community locally and nationally. We want to make certain that we take our time to think strategically about the board, who the next permanent leader will be, and how it will be organized.”
Prior to the Globe, Leung spent six years at the Wall Street Journal. A graduate of Princeton University, Leung started her career at her hometown paper, The Baltimore Sun.
“The Globe’s editorial board last week spoke loudly and with purpose with its #FreePress initiative driving a national conversation on the role of journalism,“ said Leung. “I am proud and humbled to take on this new post and have my voice join theirs.”
Moments ago a source sent me a copy of an email that went out to Boston Globe staff members today about an internal investigation into allegations by former Boston.com editor Hilary Sargent that she had been sexually harassed by Globe editor Brian McGrory. The email is signed by Claudia Henderson, the Globe’s chief human resources officer, and Dan Krockmalnic, the Globe’s general counsel.
As you will see, we don’t learn much. But it sounds like, from the Globe’s point of view, it’s over. The key sentence: “While the investigation revealed a series of exchanges and interactions between Mr. McGrory and Ms. Sargent that were of a personal nature, the investigator found that they were initiated by and reciprocated by both parties, and did not violate our anti-harassment policy.”
The email in full is as follows.
We write to let you know that the investigation conducted by outside counsel into the matter regarding Brian McGrory that was raised by Hilary Sargent has concluded. Over the past several weeks since these allegations first surfaced, the investigator has conducted a thorough review that included multiple interviews of both Mr. McGrory and Ms. Sargent. While the investigation revealed a series of exchanges and interactions between Mr. McGrory and Ms. Sargent that were of a personal nature, the investigator found that they were initiated by and reciprocated by both parties, and did not violate our anti-harassment policy.
We have addressed this personnel matter directly with Mr. McGrory, and will not comment further out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved.
We very much appreciate that this has been a difficult time for the team. We are grateful for the complete cooperation of Ms. Sargent and Mr. McGrory, and we look forward to moving ahead
As you all know, earlier in the year, we introduced EthicsPoint, a confidential reporting tool to assist employees in addressing workplace misconduct or violations. We also conducted anti-harassment training for managers and will continue to host these on an annual basis.
Thank you for your patience and, most importantly, for the crucial work you do here every day.
Claudia Henderson and Dan Krockmalnic
- “Globe editor did not violate anti-harassment police, editors find” (Boston Globe)
- “Boston Globe editor cleared of wrongdoing over texts” (Boston Herald)
- “Boston Globe Ends Investigation into Harassment Allegations Against Top Editor” (Boston magazine)
- “Globe clears McGrory of sexual harassment” (CommonWealth)
- Also, Sargent makes it clear on Twitter that the Globe’s announcement is far from an amicable resolution. For instance, she tweeted this morning: “If what I spent more than seven hours describing to the @BostonGlobe didn’t make them want to interview a SINGLE corroborating witness, you have to wonder why. What kind of investigation doesn’t have the truth as its goal? This kind.”
The lawyer for Hilary Sargent, the former top editor of Boston.com who recently accused Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory of sexual harassment in several tweets two weeks ago, has filed documents in Suffolk Superior Court in response to the Globe’s demand that she turn over records about her claim. A judge has scheduled a hearing on the Globe’s case for this Thursday at 2 p.m.
I recently wrote a backgrounder for WGBH News that you may find useful.
- “Sargent warned Henry about sexual harassment at the Globe,” by Jack Sullivan, CommonWealth Magazine
- “Former Boston.com editor says she does not know date of text exchange at center of legal dispute,” by Danny McDonald, The Boston Globe
As if there weren’t enough turmoil at The Boston Globe, president Vinay Mehra and editor Brian McGrory earlier today announced another round of budget cuts. Mehra and McGrory say they hope to find the savings they need through buyouts, but they won’t rule out layoffs. No word on how many people they are hoping will exit the building. The memos were obtained from a newsroom source.
In addition, the last vestiges of the Sunday zoned editions for local news are being all but eliminated, as Globe North, Globe South and Globe West are being combined into a Sunday section to be called Globe Local.
Both Mehra and McGrory claim the effect on the Globe’s journalism will be minimal. Obviously, though, this is a perilous route to take at a time when the paper is trying to offset an industry-wide decline in ad revenues with high-priced digital subscriptions. McGrory has previously said the Globe is on track to hit 100,000 digital subscriptions by the end of June, and that the paper may approach sustainability if that number can be doubled during the next few years. It’s encouraging that readers are willing to pay — but it remains to be seen if they will pay more for less.
“As to what it all means — well, a lot,” McGrory writes. “It means there was an unanticipated revenue shortfall heading toward the last half of the year and we need to stem it quickly. It means that this business hasn’t gotten any easier…. This does not mean there is a hiring freeze. This does not signal Draconian cuts. It gives us the most options, in the most humane way possible. We are absolutely hiring for key jobs, with a couple of offers out there as I write.”
What follows is the top of Mehra’s memo, minus a detailed explanation of how employees can apply for the buyout.
Every day The Boston Globe produces the best news report in the region and one of the best regional reports in the country. But as the news business changes, and more subscribers seek to read us on digital, our cost structure remains out of line with the realities of the industry.
While we have built a large and growing digital business, we still have an organization built on the profit margins and specific needs of the print era, where the economics continue to be challenging as advertising has shrunk across the sector. We’ve done much to change; we still have more to do. We can’t afford to slow down in our efforts to build The Boston Globe of the future, one in which subscribers play an increasingly central role in our revenue model.
So we are now announcing a buyout primarily designed for people in our newsroom, advertising, and marketing departments. We will use any savings to address the current economic realities and invest in our core strength — great journalism, with an eye toward our digital offerings.
We are optimistic that the buyout, the first in two years, will result in the savings we need to create a sustainable Globe. If we do not get enough takers, we’ll have to consider all other options, including layoffs.
We know the last few years have been a time of dramatic change, and that it has placed tremendous pressure on everyone in the organization. And we know that this latest buyout — like previous ones — will mean saying goodbye to cherished colleagues. But this is a good moment to take stock of how much we have already accomplished in growing our digital audience and telling stories in different ways. We must take this next step – so we can invest in our growth and enhance our stature as a news organization.
And here is the full text of McGrory’s memo.
No doubt that many of you have questions about the buyout, what it means generally, what it specifically means to those interested. I’d like to be helpful, and Jen [managing editor Jennifer Peter] can be as well.
Briefly, I’ll say that we haven’t done one of these in a couple of years, and I would advise against going into it assuming there will be another any time soon. This one, as you’ve likely noted, will differ in a few key ways from past practice. First, people will get two weeks for every year of service, but the total package will be capped at six months. Second, the company is asking that you declare your intentions within the first two weeks of the offer. Third, you won’t get personalized packages sent to your homes; rather, if you’re interested, you’re encouraged to make an appointment with human resources straightaway for a direct discussion.
As to what it all means — well, a lot. It means there was an unanticipated revenue shortfall heading toward the last half of the year and we need to stem it quickly. It means that this business hasn’t gotten any easier. It means that the company has agreed to take the most flexible approach to the newsroom and a couple of other departments. This does not mean there is a hiring freeze. This does not signal Draconian cuts. It gives us the most options, in the most humane way possible. We are absolutely hiring for key jobs, with a couple of offers out there as I write. The success of this organization is going to rise in no small part on the success of this room.
Will it lead to newsroom layoffs? I’m optimistic that it won’t, but can’t make guarantees. I don’t believe it would be a significant number under any circumstance. We need to see who puts in for it. I’ll be as open as possible about the need and our plans.
Cuts are being made elsewhere in the newsroom — and across the organization. We’re making some page reductions that we hope will have no major impact on our readers. These trims will give us cost savings from materials and freelance spending, and free up editing resources that can be devoted to other places. One change worth noting is to our regional editions — Globe North, Globe South, and Globe West. Our editors do great work putting out high quality sections week after week, but revenue-wise, they are on the verge of going under water. We are planning to create one edition that will run across all zones, called Globe Local, and zone the advertising, so that businesses still have a lower cost, more targeted option. In other words, if you’re a bank on the South Shore, you can advertise in the Globe Local edition that only goes to the South Shore, but the journalism in it will come from all over.
Again, feel free to come see me or Jen, individually, in small groups, or however you want. I am truly hopeful that this buyout will work well for a good number of people, and that the faster process will allow us to not lose sight of our vital work.
Many readers of The Boston Globe may not have heard that editor Brian McGrory had been accused of sexual harassment until they picked up today’s paper and cast their eyes to the bottom of page one. In fact, the story has been building since Sunday, when Hilary Sargent, a former top editor at the Globe’s free website, Boston.com, tweeted a text exchange she said she had with McGrory in which he asked what she wears when she writes. Sargent’s tweet was the most explosive development in a situation that extends back to December.
For those of you who haven’t been following the story closely, or who are only learning about it now, I’ve put together a list of some of the key moments thus far. But, as they say, stay tuned.
1. The Globe botches its coverage of sexual harassment at the paper. A Globe article on the burgeoning #MeToo movement within the local media last December failed to identifypolitical reporter Jim O’Sullivan, who had left the paper for misconduct — including, reportedly, sexually harassing women on Beacon Hill. The story also did not identify several other former Globe employees who had been accused of sexual harassment.
After an uproar, McGrory reversed himself and issued a statement in which he identified O’Sullivan and took responsibility for making a “mistake” and for failing “to grasp the need for transparency by this organization,” though he did not apologize. During and after the O’Sullivan imbroglio, Sargent — who was an intern at the Globe in the late 1990s and then was hired to help run Boston.com in 2014 (she is also a former WGBH News staff member) — began tweeting about her own experiences with sexual harassment at the paper. She offered little in the way of detail, but repeatedly urged the Globe to dig more deeply into its own culture.
2. Sargent tweets that McGrory responded inappropriately to a text message she had sent him. On Sunday, Sargent’s long-simmering complaints got more detailed when she tweeted out the image of a text exchange she said she’d had with McGrory in which she asked for writing advice and he responded: “Got it. What do you generally wear when you write?” Sargent: “Seriously?” The response: “Well, not entirely.” Sargent explained why she had tweeted out the exchange this way: “If you’ve ever been sent a sext-type text from someone who was powerful enough that you felt you couldn’t do anything (other than panic/shake your head/cry), you’re not alone. The more we tweet these, the less they’ll send them. #MeToo.”
3. The media slowly begin to pick up on the story. The website Turtleboy Sports republished Sargent’s tweet and, on WEEI Radio (93.7 FM), longtime Globe antagonists Kirk Minihane and Gerry Callahan alluded to it as well. But the story got its first full airing Tuesday evening on WGBH News’ “Greater Boston,” when Adam Reilly, Emily Rooney, and I tried to make sense of what was going on. We urged the Globe to make a thorough accounting of what had happened and to report what action would be taken.
“Sargent has not made clear the timing of the text message from McGrory,” wrote Rooney in summing up our discussion. “We do not know if it was after she left the Globe in February of 2016 or while she worked there. Nor do we know the context of this one text, what was said before or after, or whether they regularly shared this kind of banter in text message exchanges.”
Neither the Globe nor Sargent would comment on the specifics, although both sides did issue statements. “We are aware of Hilary Sargeant’s [sic] tweets. We have no comment at this time,” said Globe spokeswoman Jane Bowman. Sargent’s statement said in full:
Women deserve to be treated professionally and taken seriously. It is crucial that individuals in leadership positions are held to the same high standard of conduct that the Globe would expect of any individuals in leadership positions at other similarly powerful institutions. Those in leadership positions at media organizations have significant influence over how the issue of sexual harassment is covered, and the coverage they oversee should never be tainted or colored by their own missteps and misdeeds.
4. The Globe reacts with two statements, a story — and a threat to sue Sargent. At 1:47 p.m. on Wednesday, Globe employees received a statement from managing director Linda Pizzuti Henry and president Vinay Mehra. The statement acknowledged the controversy but didn’t go much further. The key passage:
We discussed the issue with Brian in an attempt to understand both the nature of any exchanges between the two parties and also whether or not these exchanges occurred during her employment. We also reached out to Ms. Sargent, the former employee, to ascertain the timing and context of the text in question. At this time it is still unclear when these exchanges took place. We expect to have resolution on this matter soon but did not want to wait another day to connect with you directly.
At about 8:15 p.m., amid whispers that a front-page story was on the way, McGrory himself issued a statement in which he said he could not remember sending the “what do you generally wear” text to Sargent and saying that he and Sargent had “dated many years ago. We did not work together at the time, and we’ve remained friendly over the years.” He added that “months after Hilary left boston.com, we would sometimes exchange text messages that included the kind of personal banter of two people very familiar with each other. I regret that very much for reasons that go far beyond the Globe.”
There is much to ponder in McGrory’s statement, and I urge you to read it in full. But the message he clearly wants to get across is this: “I can’t believe I have to write these words, but I have never harassed Hilary Sargent or any other women at the Globe or anywhere else — ever. I don’t believe I have ever acted inappropriately with anyone at this company.”
Finally, after 10 p.m., the Globe posted a story on its website reported by Mark Arsenault that also appears on page one in today’s paper. (McGrory’s statement is republished as well.) The story contains a jarring piece of news: The Globe either plans to sue or is threatening to sue Sargent in Superior Court. “That suit,” Arsenault writes, “would seek to compel Sargent under the terms of her 2016 separation agreement from the organization to provide the newspaper more information about the text in question, such as the date, and ask for unspecified damages.” It was a highly aggressive move, to say the least, and seems questionable from a public-relations point of view.
Arsenault also quoted an email from Sargent in which she strongly pushed back on McGrory’s statement that he had never harassed anyone: “If Brian McGrory truly does not believe he has ever acted inappropriately with anyone at The Boston Globe, then he and I have a remarkably different understanding of what is — and is not — appropriate.”
5. Sargent publicly responds. Shortly after Arsenault’s story was published, Sargent tweeted: “For approximately six months I have reached out to the @BostonGlobe asking to discuss with them the extent to which sexual harassment has been an issue – long ago and not so long ago. My offer still stands. I have not refused to assist in their ‘investigation.’”
This morning she added: “With the @BostonGlobe threatening a lawsuit, I will only say this. This isn’t about one text. This isn’t about just him. And this isn’t about just me. I’m horrified that the newspaper that purports to shine a ‘Spotlight’ is doing everything in their power to do just the opposite.”
And there matters stand — for now.
6. McGrory strikes back. On Thursday evening, we recorded a special webcast of “Beat the Press” to discuss the latest. No sooner had we finished than we learned of another bombshell: a private attorney for McGrory had written a letter threatening to sue Sargent for libel, claiming that she had made “false and defamatory statements” about McGrory.
The lawyer, Martin Murphy of the Boston firm Foley Hoag, writes that Sargent has omitted context from her accusations that “falsely cast Mr. McGrory as a person who used his position to sexually harass Ms. Sargent, and falsely portrayed him as part of that group of men who have, in fact, used their positions to sexually harass and assault women. Ms. Sargent’s false and defamatory statements are and continue to be actionable, and they have already caused harm to Mr. McGrory.”
I’m doing this on my phone, so forgive the formatting. Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory send this to the staff a little while ago, and several sources provided it to me.
To the newsroom,
Hilary Sargent is someone I have known for a long time, been fond of personally, and respected professionally. To say the least, I was not anticipating the situation this week.
Hilary released on Monday what she said was an exchange between us. I have no recollection of it, which, admittedly, is embarrassing to me. I have asked Hilary to provide the date and a more complete version of the exchange. She has not addressed my request. I have told the Globe’s owners that the company should feel free to retrieve our text messages by whatever means possible, and I am trying myself.
Absent that information, I do think some context is needed.
First, Hilary and I dated many years ago. We did not work together at the time, and we’ve remained friendly over the years.
Second, when Hilary came to boston.com in 2014, I had no role, no say whatsoever, in her hire. She did not report to me, even indirectly. The site had a separate editor answering directly to the front office. We were on mutually friendly terms, and I do not believe I ever wrote, spoke, or acted in a disrespectful way to her.
Third, months after Hilary left boston.com, we would sometimes exchange text messages that included the kind of personal banter of two people very familiar with each other. I regret that very much for reasons that go far beyond the Globe.
I can’t believe I have to write these words, but I have never harassed Hilary Sargent or any other women at the Globe or anywhere else – ever. I don’t believe I have ever acted inappropriately with anyone at this company. I have been a manager two different times over my 29 years with this organization – from 2007 to 2009 as the Metro editor, and from 2013 to now as the editor. I cannot think of a time, not one, when I treated any female colleague with anything but respect. I have never faced any sort of complaint, formal or informal, whether as a manager or not. I have consistently put women in leadership positions, such that newsroom management is split equally by gender, with talented women holding many of the most pivotal jobs – managing editor, news editor, innovations editor, Spotlight editor, just to name a few. I devoted myself to the issue of gender pay equity from the first months that I took this position, and I’m proud to say that in key categories in the newsroom, we have achieved it. Tough decisions that have affected women and men have been made during my tenure, inevitable in an industry that is losing revenue each year. But I have always tried to address these challenges with a basic sense of decency.
I have no desire to argue with Hilary Sargent, publicly or privately. In fact, I very much respect her abilities as a journalist. But I do think that it’s important to have the broader context known.
Finally, I fully realize the toll this has taken on the newsroom, the distraction it has caused and the questions it has understandably raised. My one request is that everyone remains focused on the vital work of the Globe each and every day.
Two top Boston Globe executives, managing director Linda Pizzuti Henry and president Vinay Mehra, sent this out to the staff earlier this afternoon. A source passed it on a little while ago. As you’ll see, the message concerns a charge by Hilary Sargent, a former top editor at Boston.com, that she was sexually harassed by Globe editor Brian McGrory in a text message, which she posted on Twitter this past Monday.
Emily Rooney, Adam Reilly and I discussed the situation Tuesday evening on “Greater Boston.”
The full text of Henry and Mehra’s message (except for an internal link for reporting employee concerns) follows.
As you may be aware, a former employee has publicly suggested that there was an inappropriate text exchange between Brian McGrory and her. As we discussed last fall and at the last newsroom Town Hall, we are deeply committed to creating a safe, comfortable, welcoming working environment for all employees. We have multiple avenues for employees to use to escalate concerns and will work to expeditiously address any issues raised going forward or looking back.
This issue is no exception. When we first learned about the social media discussion mentioned above, we began investigating to gather as much relevant information as we could. We discussed the issue with Brian in an attempt to understand both the nature of any exchanges between the two parties and also whether or not these exchanges occurred during her employment. We also reached out to Ms. Sargent, the former employee, to ascertain the timing and context of the text in question. At this time it is still unclear when these exchanges took place.
We expect to have resolution on this matter soon but did not want to wait another day to connect with you directly. We want to reiterate how important your work is, how important your contributions are to us and how seriously we take assertions of improper conduct.
If there is anything you would like to discuss related to this matter or any others, please do not hesitate to reach out to us or any member of the management or human resources team….
Linda & Vinay