Noted Journalist to Leave Globe
Career Highlights Include a Pulitzer
By Mark Shanahan
August 4, 2006
Walter V. Robinson, a Boston Globe newsroom veteran who in 2003 helped the newspaper win a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories exposing sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church, said yesterday he is leaving the newspaper to become a professor of journalism at his alma mater, Northeastern University.
Robinson, who has held more than a dozen jobs at the Globe in a career that has spanned 34 years, expects to begin his teaching duties in January. Globe editor Martin Baron said Robinson will continue to maintain a relationship with the paper, sharing his investigative expertise with the staff and periodically writing stories.
"You could say I'm the subject of that wacky country song, 'How Can I Miss You if You Won't Go Away,' " Robinson, 60, quipped yesterday. "I've had 15 or 16 jobs at the Globe, and I haven't had a lousy one yet."
Robinson, known to colleagues as Robby, joined the newspaper in 1972. A Melrose native and graduate of Boston College High School, he covered police as a cub reporter. He later became city editor, Metro editor, Washington correspondent during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, a reporter covering four presidential campaigns, Middle East bureau chief, and, most recently, assistant managing editor for investigations, overseeing the Globe's Spotlight Team.
By his own reckoning, Robinson reported from 48 states and 30 countries, including Iraq, where he covered the Persian Gulf crisis and the first Gulf War. During his career, Robinson has written about topics ranging from the art world's complicity in the Nazi art plunder during World War II to front-page profiles of newsmakers such as former Boston mayor Raymond L. Flynn, historian Joseph Ellis, and former vice president Al Gore.
Before joining the Globe, Robinson served for four years in the US Army and was discharged with the rank of captain after serving as an intelligence officer with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. After his discharge, he worked at the Globe while in college and stayed in the newsroom after graduation.
His decision to leave the Globe did not come as a complete surprise to Baron, who announced Robinson's departure in an e-mail to the staff yesterday afternoon.
"For some time now, Walter Robinson has talked with me about the possibility of doing something entirely different at this stage of his life and career," Baron wrote. "I was hoping he would drop the subject. He hasn't. . . . Anyone who reflects on Robby's career at the Globe can't help but marvel at his record of accomplishment."
Under Robinson's leadership, the investigative Spotlight Team has produced numerous provocative series, about municipal corruption, fraudulent charities, the clergy sexual-abuse scandal, and the unfair practices of debt collectors. Many won journalism prizes. Coverage of the clergy scandal won the Globe the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, considered the gold medal for the profession.
He joins the faculty at Northeastern as a Distinguished Professor of Journalism. "Walter Robinson brings a wealth of experience to our program as one of the nation's leading journalists," Stephen D. Burgard, director of Northeastern's School of Journalism, said in a statement.
Robinson, who is married and lives in Milton, said he's looking forward to his new job. "I've had an enormously gratifying career at the Globe," he said. "Now, I'd like to have another career teaching the next generation's journalists some of what I've learned."
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