After 15 months as editor of The Boston Globe, Michael C. Janeway yesterday walked into the newsroom and told his increasingly rebellious staff: "I am resigning as editor of The Globe."
Janeway then told the group that he had given the job his "best shot," adding that it had "been an honor to serve in it." After praising Globe Executive Editor John S. Driscoll, who will not take the title of editor but will at least temporarily run the paper, he turned and left. Many on the staff said they applauded quietly.
Although Publisher William Taylor announced the resignation with no elaboration, many familiar with the shift said it is an effort by Taylor to end the discord that has characterized Janeway's tenure.
Sources at the paper said that Janeway, whose training had been as a magazine editor and Sunday editor of the paper, was not prepared for the boisterousness of daily journalism in Boston. In stark contrast to retired editor Thomas Winship, who held the job for 20 years and relished local political stories, Janeway seemed more interested in national and foreign news, they said.
"It was like putting out the Ethiopian News or something," Will McDonough, a veteran sports columnist, said of Janeway's brief stay in the job. "You had to turn to Page 20 before you ever got to a real story about Boston. He didn't know the city; he didn't know the people."
A distant and formal man, Janeway was expected to make the paper "more serious, a little more analytical or thoughtful," as one editor, Al Larkin, said at the time. Janeway could not be reached yesterday. Driscoll also did not return calls.
Within the Globe newsroom, where rumors of some major shift began to surface earlier in the week, at least one reporter described Janeway's final statement to the staff as "a class act." Others, comparing it to Aug. 9, 1974, when President Nixon took his last helicopter ride out of the White House compound, said there was some sadness for Janeway, but essentially there was an overwhelming feeling of relief that the turmoil may have ended. One Winship loyalist, a member of the group of reporters of Irish heritage who were particularly demoralized by Janeway, described his mood as "jubilation."
Janeway, 44, started with an almost insurmountable task in replacing Winship, a witty, compelling man who was revered by many on the paper and feared by many politicians in Boston. Even Janeway said as much in October 1984, when his appointment was announced, telling the staff that "no one can be another Tom."
But Janeway reportedly began to alienate an already wary staff with some of his personnel changes. Former managing editor Matthew Storin, now a deputy managing editor of U.S. News & World Report, resigned last year after several heated disagreements with Janeway.
After promoting two staff members to deputy managing editors earlier this year, Janeway reportedly wanted to put their names on the masthead. According to sources at the paper, he also suggested that two names be removed -- Robert Healy and H.D.S. Greenway, both associate editors. Publisher Taylor overruled Janeway and kept the two names on, the sources said.
Several days ago, Driscoll reportedly told Taylor that he had what one of Driscoll's friends described as a "personality clash" with Janeway and would prefer to leave or move elsewhere in the paper.
"That may be as close as you can come to a precipitating event," said one key source at The Globe of Janeway's departure. "If you lost Driscoll, you lost most of the institutional memory.