Brian Boyd: Hail and Farewell
I am going to break some time-honored rules about how to write a news story. In fact, I did it with the first word, I. In a news story, as opposed to a column, you never use I. If you have to refer to yourself, you do it in the third person: a reporter asked, not I asked.
But I need to break that rule and break an accompanying one about not letting my personal feelings run into the story because this is a piece about personal loss, not just for me but for the entire staff of Shore Publishing.
Brian Boyd, our editor for some 20 years, a source of encouragement, friendship, editorial wisdom, and good judgment, is leaving. He has been selected to be editor of the Vineyard Gazette, a 176-year-old weekly on Martha’s Vineyard that has eight times won the New England Press Association award as Newspaper of the Year and in 1991 was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in spot reporting.
Leaving, Brian admits, is difficult.
“It’s so much about the team that we’ve built over the last 20 years, the caliber of talent we have here in a relatively small paper. It wasn’t about me; it never was,” he says.
Shore Publishing, Brian says, has remained committed to its goal of community journalism.
“That’s what our emphasis has always been,” he says. “That’s our priority.”
He sees the same priority in the Vineyard Gazette—”It’s a legendary paper with a commitment to community news.”
In today’s world of social media, Brian says there is still a necessary place for print journalism.
“People need thoughtful, vetted stories, as opposed to something somebody heard,” he says. “There is always a place for telling stories.”
Brian was not looking for a job. He was contacted by a recruiter who’d seen his profile on the website LinkedIn, and went through a series of telephone, video, and in-person interviews before his selection.
Online and Periodicals Editor Laura Robida will now take over at Shore Publishing as managing editor.
“I am honored,” Robida said. “These are very big shoes to fill.”
Ryan Duques and James Warner started Shore Publishing in 1996. In 2008, the organization was sold to the New London Day, the present owners. Shore now publishes the East Haven Courier, the Guilford Courier, the North Haven Courier, the Valley Courier, the Harbor News, The Sound, and The Source.
Brian was hired in 2000 to write four stories for each bi-weekly issue of the Guilford Courier; two weeks later the paper changed from a bi-weekly to a weekly. Brian still had to write the same four stories, just twice as often.
He says the office legend is that Duques and Warner hired him because he wore a blue blazer to the interview. He wore a blue blazer when he met the interviewers from the Vineyard Gazette, but it was a new blazer.
“I could have fit into the old one before COVID,” he maintains.
Taking the job at the Guilford Courier added to Brian’s workload. He was a Yale student at the time, but he had not gone there directly from E.O. Smith High School in Mansfield. He had first attended the University of Connecticut.
“I dabbled. I was not driven by anything at all,” he recalls.
Earlier, Brian worked in a pet store and then for a wholesaler of tropical fish. A decade after high school, a family friend told him it was time that he reconsider his life and return to college. This time he went to Yale, as what was then known as a special student, usually an older undergraduate returning to get a degree.
“Yale was a fascinating, amazing place to learn. It changed my brain; it opened it up,” Brian says. “Who would imagine that Math 101, calculus, could make me a better writer, especially since I hadn’t taken math in 13 years?”
But, he adds, it did.
It took Brian five years to graduate, majoring in environmental studies and American studies. Since he was paying his own tuition, he worked part-time, as a waiter, a bartender, and a salesperson before starting with the Courier.
On Martha’s Vineyard, Brian will continue making and eating his own pizza, preferably with prosciutto and peppers. In the never-ending New Haven question, he is a Pepe’s person.
He is also a woodworker, a hobby that started when he saw a picture of a wooden sea kayak on the cover of WoodenBoat magazine in 1996.
“It was beautiful,” he says. “I thought, ‘I should do that.’”
And he did, once he had bought construction plans. From there he moved to furniture pieces and more recently to guitars.
There is a celebrity readership for the Vineyard Gazette—the Clintons vacation there; the Obamas have a house, as do David Letterman, Rosie O’Donnell, and Meg Ryan, among a host of others.
Those names, however, are in the future. Now Brian is thinking about the readers he has had a relationship with for more than 20 years.
“I want to say thank you, thank you to all of them,” he says. “I never thought I would leave.”
And I never dreamed of the moment I would have to say good-bye.
Godspeed, good friend.