Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson alum Brendan McCarthy named new Globe Spotlight editor

Courtesy of Brendan McCarthy

If you told Emerson student Brendan McCarthy that he’d someday be a Boston Globe Spotlight editor, he probably wouldn’t have believed it.

But on Feb. 27, it was announced that McCarthy ‘04 officially stepped into the role as top editor for Spotlight, the Globe’s award-winning special reporting unit for investigative journalism—a promotion he said was a “dream come true.” 

“It is just an immense privilege, and I feel fortunate to be at the Globe, a place where we still have ample resources and dedication to this kind of work,” McCarthy said.

The promotion was made after five years as deputy projects editor on the investigative team at the Globe and an editor for the Kentucky Center for investigative reporting

“The world right now needs more journalists, and what that looks like can come in many different ways,” McCarthy said. “I’ve experienced nothing greater than being a reporter for the community, seeing how solid reporting, fearless journalism can make a difference.”

After transferring to Emerson in 2001, McCarthy discovered his calling to journalism while taking a Foundations of Journalism class and later serving as the news editor for The Berkeley Beacon. 

“It was during that time at Emerson when I also fell in love with this work,” McCarthy said. “Hearing from great professors, great practitioners—they are people … who did this day in and day out, and learning kind of the tricks of the trade and the craft just really further cemented that this was the thing that was for me.”

During his time as a student, he also participated in the Globe’s co-op program for college students, where he served as a full-time editorial assistant. Unbeknownst to him at the time, this would be just the beginning of his work there. 

He also spoke of the drastic changes made to the profession since his time started, including receiving news through social media platforms like TikTok and Reddit and the inclusion of multimedia reporting.  

“I remember well the ideas about video and some of the tools we talked about then and what media would look like when I was coming out of college, and it set the stage for what was to come,” said McCarthy. “Shortly a few years after college, the idea of pivoting to video was all the rage in newspapers, [and] newsrooms.” 

McCarthy said Emerson prepared him to keep up with these changes.

“I remember some of those classes that I took at Emerson that were having those same conversations,” McCarthy said.“I felt well prepared or at least confident in going out and trying a lot of these things.” 

Evan Allen, a fellow Emerson alum and former Globe colleague, highlighted the invaluable contributions McCarthy will be making in this new chapter. 

“This kind of work can be very stressful and very difficult. You’re doing a lot of fighting, and you’re often in uncharted waters, which can be nerve-racking. Having someone like Brendan at your side makes it not only feel like you can … take on the world together, but it’s also just a lot of fun,” she said. “He’s just a fun person to work with.”

Evan Allen, left, and Brendan McCarthy, right, in the Boston Globe newsroom.

Allen and McCarthy have worked together for years on investigative stories for the Globe, such as “Blind Spot,” a multi-part series investigating the lack of road safety and its effects, and “Nightmare in Mission Hill,” an old murder in Boston they investigated and conducted a podcast and print series about.

Though Allen left the Globe in December 2023 to join her brother John Allen’s digital storytelling company, Ballen Studios, she said one of the best things about her time working at the Globe was working with McCarthy. 

“I was excited for him when they named him Spotlight editor,” she said. “It’s an obvious choice, and a really good choice, but he’s going to be so good.” 

Allen added that McCarthy is both an “aggressive investigative journalist” and a good storyteller. 

“Getting the facts is actually only part of your job as an investigative journalist. The other part, and sometimes it feels like the harder part, is turning them into a story that people are going to care about, and people are going to want to read,” she said. “I’ve had plenty of times when things are not going well, and you know Brendan is the person you want in your corner and those are the times that it matters what your character is.

McCarthy hopes to continue the Spotlight team’s longstanding legacy.. 

“To see a story that leads to legislative change or potentially puts a bad guy in jail, that is what got me excited about this industry and this work in college, and to be able to carry that out now with a great group of passionate colleagues is great, McCarthy said. 

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About the Contributor
Valentina Baez, Staff Writer
Valentina Baez (she/her/hers) is a Venezuelan-American student journalist from Miami, FL. Her Journalism Major coupled with her minor in Political Science has provided her with an understanding of the intersectional news coverage she’s interested in. She is currently the beat reporter for the Emerson College Student’s Union and occasionally likes to write other stories for the news section. She is a Junior and will be graduating early in August of 2024.

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