Big moves as Globe prepares to expand its business section

Some big media moves were announced a little while ago as The Boston Globe plans to ramp up its business section next month. First the email sent to the staff by editor Brian McGrory and business editor Mark Pothier. Then a bit of analysis.

Hey all,

We’d like to fill you in on some terrific developments in our Business department, all of them designed to build on the exceptional work that went into our Market Basket coverage and so many other news and enterprise stories over the past year.

First, we’re reconfiguring the paper to give Business its own section front on Tuesdays through Fridays, starting the first week of December. In fact, Business will get a free-standing eight-page section, somewhere between Metro and Sports. We’ve worked with Mark Morrow and Dan Zedek, as well as an entire team of creative editors and reporters, to conceive a bold new approach to business coverage, both in form and function. There’ll be a more contemporary look, a plethora of new features, and a renewed commitment to the most insightful and energetic business coverage in New England. We’ve got everything but a new name, which is currently, to my chagrin, “Business.” Please offer better ideas.

For this new section, we need additional talent, and that’s the best part of this note. We’ve locked in three major moves and we’re working on still others. To wit:

— Cynthia Needham, the Globe’s invaluable political editor for the past four years, the person who has taken us deftly from Brown v Warren to Baker v Coakley, and through so much in between, is heading to Business to help oversee a talented team of reporters and key parts of the new section. There’s not a better person in the industry to help the cause. Cynthia was a vital part of the conception and launch of Capital, our wonderfully popular Friday political section. She knows inherently that journalistic sweetspot where insight meets accessibility. And she is among the smartest, hardest-working, and best-connected editors in the building, all of which is why we asked her to undertake this crucial assignment. Cynthia will start at her new post, as one of Mark’s deputies, next week.

— Jon Chesto, the managing editor of the Boston Business Journal, is coming to the Globe November 24, as a reporter covering what we’ll describe as a “power beat.” It’s a great get for us. Jon’s among the absolute best connected reporters in the city, with a deep knowledge of how commerce works and the major figures who shape it. He’s also an energetic workhorse, an irrepressible reporter who will help breathe fresh energy into the department with smart stories. Before his stint at the BBJ, Jon spent a big chunk of time as the business editor at the Patriot Ledger, where he won a string of national awards for his weekly column, “Mass. Market.”

— Sacha Pfeiffer will arrive back home to the Globe the first week of December. There’s no way to overstate the significance of this. Sacha is legend here, which has nothing to do with Rachel McAdams, but everything to do with her exceptional reporting over a decade-long stint at the Globe, during which she shared in the Pulitzer Prize for the Spotlight series on clergy child abuse and a litany of national honors for other stories. She’s been a star at WBUR since 2008, recognizable for her expert reporting and authoritative on-air presence. The exact particulars of Sacha’s beat are still being worked out, but it will focus on wealth management and power, along with a weekly column tailored to the huge and vital nonprofit world in greater Boston. Sacha, like Jon, will report to Cynthia.

We’re aiming to make our business coverage a signature part of the Globe, both in print and online, which shouldn’t be hard, given that we’re starting from a very strong position. Our reporters have attacked their beats with gusto. Shirley [Leung] has proven to be a must-read columnist every time she taps on her keyboard. Our editors have poured creativity into the job, and it shows.

The reimagined section will launch December 4, give or take a day. We have mock-ups we’ll share with the whole staff early next week. In the meantime, please take a moment to congratulate Cynthia and to welcome Jon and Sacha to the Globe.

All best,
Brian and Mark

Now, then. This is great news for Globe readers, although I would express the hope that expanded labor coverage will be part of this as well. But for those of us who watch the comings and goings of local media people, the most surprising development is Sacha Pfeiffer’s return to the Globe.

When Pfeiffer joined WBUR (90.9 FM) several years ago, I thought it solidified ’BUR as the city’s most interesting and creative news organization. Of course, ’BUR remains one of the crown jewels of the public radio system. But Pfeiffer’s return underscores the extent to which the Globe is expanding these days under owner John Henry and editor McGrory. (Disclosure: I’m a paid contributor to WGBH, whose news-and-talk radio station, at 89.7 FM, is a direct competitor of WBUR’s.)

Chesto’s move is less surprising because it’s a step up. But the Boston Business Journal has been set back on its heels given that executive editor George Donnelly left at the end of last month.

Masthead changes announced at the Boston Globe

Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory announced several changes to the masthead earlier today. The most significant: managing editor Caleb Solomon will become managing editor for digital to “oversee our rapidly evolving websites and portable platforms,” as McGrory put it in a memo to the newsroom.

Solomon was thought by some to be in the mix as a possible successor to Marty Baron when Baron left the paper late last year to take charge of the Washington Post. The position went to McGrory instead.

With Solomon shifting to the online side, Christine Chinlund will move up from deputy managing editor for news operations to managing editor for news. McGrory writes that Chinlund was his editor when he was the Globe’s national reporter — “though I don’t think she remembers, which, admittedly, sort of hurts.”

Getting a title enhancement is Mark Morrow, deputy managing editor for Sunday and projects, who will become senior deputy managing editor.

Combined with McGrory’s recent changes at Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com, it seems pretty clear that he’s determined to make his mark even as the New York Times Co. shops the paper around to prospective buyers. It calls to mind Baron’s steady hand during the tumult of 2009, when the Times Co. threatened to close the Globe, demanded $20 million in concessions from the paper’s unions, and then put it up for sale only to pull it back.

The full text of McGrory’s memo, a copy of which was sent to Media Nation earlier today, is below.

I’m excited to share some changes in the newsroom leadership.

I’ve asked Caleb Solomon, the managing editor for the past five years, to switch his focus to our digital operation and oversee our rapidly evolving websites and portable platforms as managing editor/digital. He has enthusiastically agreed.

This is an important role, vital actually, to the way our work is read and viewed by the region and the world, and key to our future in every imaginable way. The Globe has for years been at the vanguard of the digital news revolution, first with boston.com in 1995, and then with the introduction of Bostonglobe.com and the two brands web strategy in 2011. Now we’re in the process of sorting out the sites, untangling the content, and creating stronger identities that can mutually thrive with different revenue models. Caleb will shepherd this from the newsroom perspective. He’ll be our eyes and ears in the Nieman and MIT media labs, as well as in our own, and search high and low for what works and what doesn’t. Caleb, having arrived here from the Wall Street Journal in 2003, had an extraordinarily successful run as the Globe’s business editor. We worked together when he was the deputy managing editor for enterprise, and I worked for him when he ascended to be managing editor. My admiration has grown with every passing year and job. Caleb possesses the talent to see long distances and the innate ability to get things done. To that end, he has always viewed digital as the future, evidenced when he created a digital-first philosophy in business that served as a model for the rest of the paper. As managing editor, he was the hands-on editorial force behind the advent of Bostonglobe.com, which has won every accolade under the sun, as well as our highly decorated video operation. He’s already been more indispensable than merely valuable in my short time in this role, and that will flourish in his new position.

I’ve asked Chris Chinlund, the deputy managing editor for news operations, to assume the role of managing editor/news. There’s no one I could imagine more up to this critical job, with impeccable news judgment, journalism values of the highest order, and hands-on editing skills that are on sharp display night in, night out. There’s also the matter of her experience. Investigative background? Chris was part of the Spotlight Team that exposed Whitey Bulger as an FBI informant. National politics? She covered the 1988 presidential campaign as a reporter and was the editor overseeing the 1992 race. World news? She served as foreign editor after the September 11 attacks. She’s also been a New England reporter, suburban reporter and editor, and assistant health science editor in her 30 years at the Globe. She worked a memorable stint as our final ombudsman, and was the editor of the dearly departed Focus section. She was my editor when I was a national reporter way back when, though I don’t think she remembers, which, admittedly, sort of hurts. Chris worked in my shop when I was Metro editor, we worked alongside each other when she became deputy managing editor, and she was my editor again during a second stint as a columnist. All of this gives me pretty good perspective on what we’ll be getting as she ascends to the position of managing editor, and what we’ll be getting is nothing shy of great. She’s also, as each and every person in here well knows, a world class colleague.

I’ve asked Mark Morrow, the deputy managing editor for Sunday and projects, to become a senior deputy managing editor, keeping a similar portfolio. With this new status, Mark has fresh license to interject his trademark creativity across an even broader spectrum of Globe work. As we all know and appreciate, Mark has been the senior editor on just about every distinctive Globe project for the past decade, including the fallout to our Pulitzer Prize winning Catholic Church series, the Partners Health Care Spotlight series, the Probation Department series, and most recently, the 68 Blocks narrative and the Immigration series. He has also overseen and edited two major Globe books, on Mitt Romney and Whitey Bulger, both to critical acclaim. Name it, Mark has delved deeply into it, with wordsmithing skills and perspective that are unrivaled in my time at the Globe. Add to this the fact that week after week, Mark oversees the critical Sunday paper, the showcase for some of our best work. I have already sought Mark’s wise counsel on a constant basis and tapped into his steady stream of ideas, and that will only increase in this enhanced position.

It’s a real tribute to the breadth and depth of this newsroom that journalists of this caliber are ready-made for the task ahead. I’m excited about these changes, very much so. You should be as well. They are effective immediately. Now let’s continue the great and important work of the Globe.

Brian