Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. The Globe reports this morning that the Herald is wooing former Massport director Virginia Buckingham to be its deputy editorial-page editor. Why? I am not a Buckingham-basher. Yes, she got her last job through political connections, but so did all of her predecessors, and she was more professional and diligent than many of them. To blame her for 9/11 is ludicrous. But her only published piece that I'm aware of was a self-pitying essay for the Globe's Sunday magazine last fall. And if she has any ideological convictions other than being a Republican, she's done a good job of hiding them.

For some reason, the Herald has never seemed willing to turn its editorial and op-ed pages into a smart, conservative alternative to the Globe. Of the local columnists who write for those pages now, Wayne Woodlief and Tom Keane aren't conservatives, and Beverly Beckham belongs in the lifestyle section. The departed Don Feder was a conservative, but his screeds were boring, lazy, and predictable. If publisher Pat Purcell really wants to give the Globe a run for its money in the pundit department, he should give editorial-page editor Shelly Cohen the budget to expand from two pages a day to four (giving her approximately the same square footage as the Globe) and to sign up some bright new columnists.

Hiring Buckingham sounds like a sideways move -- and an expensive one at that.

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