Monday, March 22, 2004

HERALD EXODUS CONTINUES. Two more familiar bylines will soon be disappearing. Investigative reporter Jonathan Wells, a veteran of CBS's 60 Minutes, gave his notice at the Boston Herald today. He's leaving to become executive producer of the investigative unit at WFXT-TV (Channel 25), known as "Fox 25 Undercover." The unit comprises an on-air reporter, Mike Beaudet; the executive producer's slot that Wells just took; and a producer's position that Wells will be filling. You can bet the résumés are flying between Wingo Square and Channel 25's Dedham headquarters.

Media Log has also learned that City Hall reporter Ellen Silberman will be leaving to take a job with state inspector general Gregory Sullivan. Silberman was unable to talk when I reached her, but she did confirm the pending move.

"It's a combination of things," Wells told me when I asked him why he was leaving the Herald. "The most important reason is that I had planned at some point in the near future to try to go back into television, and this was a good opportunity to do it, and to do it in Boston."

Wells declined to discuss the ongoing turmoil at the Herald, but there has been plenty. In recent weeks editor Andy Costello was removed, managing editor Andrew Gully announced he would be leaving no later than June, and Mike Barnicle - who lost his column at the Boston Globe in 1998 in part because the Herald revealed he'd lifted one-liners from a George Carlin book - was hired, to considerable newsroom consternation.

Wells worked at the Herald for six years before moving to 60 Minutes in 1993. He returned to Boston in 1999, and ended up back at the Herald after the Globe proved to be reluctant to bring him aboard.

The two Herald stories Wells says he's proudest of are the paper's post-9/11 coverage of ties between Saudi Arabia and both the Clinton and Bush White Houses, and a series from last year (with recent follow-ups) of possible ties between the Islamic Society of Boston and several people who may had dealings with terrorists.

Update: Ellen Silberman checks in to say that she's leaving for reasons other than the turmoil that's hit the Herald newsroom. "I've been at the Herald for six years," she says. "I don't want to go the Globe. And I would like to make decent money at some point in my life. So this seemed like a good opportunity. The timing is largely coincidental. It happens to be a moment of uncertainty at the Herald." She adds: "It's not like I'm a rat leaving a sinking ship. That's not where I'm at. It's more money, it's better hours, and it's a new challenge."

Silberman will leave the Herald in early April and begin working at the IG's office at the end of the month. She adds that she'll be helping with investigations, not press.

BRUDNOY'S BACK TONIGHT. The talk-radio legend will be behind the mike from 7 to 10 p.m. on WBZ Radio (AM 1030).

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