Silurian Spotlight Set to Shine
On Legendary Editor Marty Baron
PERHAPS THE SCREEN WON’T BE as large as it was when he was depicted in the 2015 Oscar-winning movie “Spotlight,” but on May 19, when Marty Baron is our guest at the next Silurian luncheon — a ZOOM event — he is still likely to display the same star power that made him such an outstanding editor at newspapers in Miami, Boston and Washington, and made those papers magnets for Pulitzer Prizes.
Baron retired this year as executive editor of the Washington Post after guiding that paper for eight years, during which it snared 10 Pulitzers. Its most recent was in 2020 for a series on the effects of climate change.
Announcing his retirement in a note to the Post staff on Feb. 28, he wrote, “At age 66, I feel ready to move on.” He is not, however, saying “thirty” to journalism. In an interview in the New York Times, where he was a top editor earlier in his career, he said, “I’ll try to stay active. I’ll try to stay involved in journalism and to continue to contribute to the profession.”
Already held in high esteem by his professional peers, Baron became known to a much wider audience when “Spotlight” opened. It took place when Baron was at the helm of the Boston Globe and guided the newspaper’s Spotlight team of investigative reporters to a startling exposé of decades-long sexual abuse by clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church in Boston — a particularly powerful institution in that city. It brought the Globe a public service Pulitzer in 2003, one of six awarded to the newspaper during Baron’s 11 years as top editor.
In the movie, Baron was portrayed by the actor Liev Schreiber, an experience he recounted in 2016, writing: “His depiction has me as a stoic, humorless, somewhat dour character that many professional colleagues instantly recognize (‘He nailed you’) and that my closest friends find not entirely familiar.”
Baron was raised in Tampa, Fla., by parents who had come from Israel. He attended Berkeley Prep School there and worked on the student paper. He went on to earn a BA in journalism and an MBA with honors at Lehigh University, where he became editor of its student newspaper. He graduated in 1976 and started his journalism career as a reporter at the Miami Herald. That was followed by top editing jobs at the Los Angeles Times in 1979 and the New York Times in 1996. In 2000, he returned to the Miami Herald as executive editor, capturing a Pulitzer for breaking news, and in January 2001, he was named executive editor of the Boston Globe. He oversaw a team of 28 Post journalists who produced a series that uncovered global surveillance efforts by the National Security Agency and won a public service Pulitzer in 2014 for a series based largely on classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Commenting on the ethical dilemma faced by news organizations in possession of classified documents, Baron defended his decision to reveal the contents: “Disclosing the massive expansion of the NSA’s surveillance network absolutely was a public service.”
While at the Post, Baron was the recipient of the 2016 Hitchens Prize, awarded annually to an author or journalist whose work “reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry, a range and depth of intellect, and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence.” In 2017, when he was presented with the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media, he was cited for “his skill in rigorous investigative journalism [that] sets a high standard for those committed to accurately reporting the truth.”
We know you’ll want to hear a lot more from Marty Baron when we have the pleasure of his company in May, so keep an eye peeled for an email from Silurian president Michael Serrill for the necessary information that will allow you to take part.
The date: May 19, 2021.
The time: Noon.
The place: Your ZOOM device.
Please join us.