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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   December 1998  issue

Filling Big Shoes   

Boston Globe replaces columnists Barnicle and Smith.

By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

Boston Globe reporters Brian McGrory and Adrian Walker have lofty expectations to fulfill. Not only are they brand-new columnists, they're stepping into the big shoes of Mike Barnicle and Patricia Smith .
Though the praised and punished Barnicle and Smith left the paper this summer amid fabrication controversies (see ``Secrets and Lies," September), the former Metro columnists were reader faves. Are replacements McGrory and Walker feeling any pressure? ``No, not a bit," Walker jokes.
Globe Editor Matthew V. Storin has confidence in his new appointees, saying they are ``both widely experienced reporters who write well and know Boston well.... They wrote excellent sample columns." Starting December 6, McGrory and Walker will each hammer out two columns a week.
For the last two-and-a-half years, McGrory, 37, has been a White House correspondent. He says the new job ``gives me the chance to get back to Boston and play a relevant role in the newspaper and in the community where I grew up, and to speak in a different voice than I do normally in news stories."
Walker, 36, has been a statehouse reporter since last year, and has also worked as deputy political editor and City Hall bureau chief. He plans to address city issues and some politics in his column and to emphasize ``the communities, the people and the issues that don't always get covered every day." Both McGrory and Walker joined the Globe in 1989.
The rookie columnists debut not long after the final chapter of the Barnicle saga. On October 29, the Globe ran an op-ed by Barnicle, after the paper had previously rejected one farewell column he submitted and also refused to run it as a paid ad.
Globe spokesman Richard Gulla says there was a feeling at the paper Barnicle should have the opportunity to say goodbye to his readers, just as Smith did. The paper ``objected to [the first piece] on the basis of content," Gulla says. In the revised version, ``we think Mike took a little bit more responsibility for the events of this summer."
Running the piece, Gulla says, ``put closure on the situation."