By: Lucia Moses
As the Globe turns ?
Taylor out, Gilman in as publisher in Boston
An era ended at The Boston Globe when publisher Benjamin Taylor, 52, was ousted following a period of lagging revenues and circulation. The news, which came as a surprise to many, reportedly including Taylor himself, signaled the end of the honeymoon period following the Globe’s purchase by the New York Times Co. in 1993. For the first time in 126 years, the paper doesn’t have a member of the Taylor family in the publisher’s seat.
Richard H. Gilman, vice president of operations at the Times, was appointed July 12 to succeed Taylor, who came up through the Globe’s newsroom. Scott H. Heekin-Canedy, 47, vice president, strategic planning, was named to succeed Gilman.
Rick Gully, a Globe spokesman, says July 12 was “a very tough day” for Taylor, who worked 27 years at the Globe, the last two as publisher. “When you talk about the end of 126 years of family stewardship, it’s a very hard thing to go through.”
No official explanation was given for the change, but observers believe the Times Co. had grown weary of the Globe’s drag on its overall financial performance.
Like many big metro papers, the Globe’s circulation is down, slipping 7% between 1993 and 1997 to 469,000. Ad revenues were down 1.6% for the first half of this year, while the flagship New York Times grew ad revenues 2.4% in the same period. The Globe is exploring ways to reduce expenses, among them conversion to the 50-inch-web width next year.
The upset also follows a rough year for the Globe, which was forced to get rid of two of its prized columnists amid charges of plagiarism and fabrication.
Some say the ouster was to be expected, given the Globe’s performance and time lapsed since the sale in 1993. A five-year agreement governing the transfer between the Globe’s Taylor and Times’ Sulzberger families expired late last year, giving the Times Co., some say, the green light to replace Taylor.
Dan Kennedy, who covers the Globe for the alternative weekly Boston Phoenix, says, “The fact that the Taylors sold the paper 51/2 years ago for $1.1 billion … it was absolutely inevitable that someday, the Sulzbergers would decide they’d want to manage the Globe.”
Financial analysts view the firing as an indication that the Times Co., after a period of sensitivity to the Globe’s former owners, is now putting investors first by replacing the top executive.
“Whenever you have a problem with operating results, there’s a temptation to bring in someone else,” says Merrill Lynch’s Lauren Rich Fine. It’s unclear if the Globe’s problems lay with market conditions or Taylor’s management, she adds.
Others take a different view. “It was not expected here,” says Globe editor Matthew V. Storin. “It’s very easy to say that was part of the plan. The guy couldn’t function as publisher if people thought he wasn’t going to be here.”
Some say a personality clash between Taylor and the Times Co. corporate culture played
Taylor will remain chairman of the board of the Globe Newspaper Co. He started at the Globe in 1972 as a general-assignment reporter and moved up through the editorial management ranks, becoming publisher in 1997.
Gilman, 48, spent the past 15 years on the business side. He oversaw the largest circulation growth since 1992, the transition to the Times’ new production plant in Queens, N.Y., and introduction of color printing at the daily. He was named to his last position in 1993 and added responsibility for circulation in 1998.
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher July 17, 1999) [Caption]