Sheehan steps down as CEO of Globe

Retired news executive from Florida is replacement

THE BOSTON GLOBE on Thursday shuffled its top management, bringing newspaper executive and publisher Doug Franklin out of retirement to replace Mike Sheehan as CEO.

Franklin, 59, is the former executive vice president and chief financial officer of Cox Enterprises, an Atlanta-based conglomerate with media and automotive operations. Franklin worked there from 2013 to 2015. He also worked as publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2008-2010), the Palm Beach Post (2008), and the Dayton Daily News (2004-2008). He currently lives in Sarasota, Florida, and will begin his new job Jan. 1.

In an email to employees, Globe publisher John Henry said Franklin was selected by himself, Sheehan, and Globe editor Brian McGrory after a national search. He said Franklin would oversee all business aspects of the operation, including “production as well as the newsroom,” in an effort to “achieve our long-term goal of creating a sustainable business model for high-level journalism.”

Henry said the 56-year-old Sheehan had dealt with problems neither of them had envisioned when Sheehan joined the Globe three years ago. And he said Franklin will face similar challenges as the news business comes to terms with “massive, continuous changes in advertising and delivery.” He added: “We have no choice but to succeed, and we will. This vibrant region depends on it.”

Sheehan, the former top official at the Hill Holliday advertising firm, joined the Globe at the beginning of 2014, brimming with optimism about making investments in the newspaper that would put it on a path to financial success. He was so optimistic about the future that a CommonWealth Q&A with him dubbed him “Mr. Sunshine.”

But over the last three years the Globe, like newspapers across the country, has been forced to continue paring back staff and even some sections. Sheehan helped orchestrate some key moves to reduce costs, moving printing operations from Boston to Taunton and laying plans for the Globe itself to move downtown in mid-2017 and sell its Morrissey Boulevard property in Dorchester.

In a telephone interview, Sheehan said the new printing operation in Taunton, once fully operational at the end of March, will save the Globe $22 million a year. He said the move downtown and the sale of the Morrissey Boulevard property will also yield savings and give the organization a “cultural shift.”

“It’s been a lot of heavy work and heavy lifting,” Sheehan said. “But these moves are the foundation of sustainability.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Sheehan said he had always planned to leave after three years to refocus his attention on some of his other endeavors. He is a partner in Vermont Donut Enterprises, which owns Dunkin’ Donut franchises in Vermont. He does what he described as advisory work for private equity and other businesses and also serves on the board of a public company, two private companies, and two nonprofits.

Henry said his initial employment negotiations with Sheehan took about two minutes, the first minute on compensation and the second on length of service at three years. “This wasn’t a negotiation,” Henry said in his email. “It was a meeting of the minds of two people determined to serve and protect one of New England’s most important institutions during a difficult time for American newspapers.”