Globe and Mail CEO Phillip Crawley to retire, Andrew Saunders named as successor

By Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail announced Thursday that longtime CEO Phillip Crawley is retiring later this year after 25 years at the helm of the newspaper.

Crawley joined the Globe in 1998 at a time of heightened competition among national newspapers after the launch of the National Post, and has since seen the company through a migration to online news.

He is set to be succeeded by Andrew Saunders, the newspaper’s chief revenue officer, who first joined the Globe in 2002 as director of advertising. Saunders will take on the role of president and CEO on Sept. 1, following Crawley’s retirement at the end of August. 

In a press release, company chairman David Thomson said Crawley “steered The Globe through intense newspaper competition and successfully established it as a leading force in new media and online products, whilst upholding exceptional standards for editorial and production quality.”

Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Conversation Canada and former editor-in-chief of The Canadian Press, hailed Crawley as “the last of the great newspaper publishers in Canada.”

“He is one of the toughest, smartest and sometimes intimidating media people I’ve ever met, and he has also shepherded The Globe and Mail into a new era,” said White.

“Those in the know, know that Phillip is not one of these publishers who sits in the corner quietly. He really is involved in it from every sense and there’s just not going to be another one like him in Canada.”

White praised Crawley’s leadership of The Globe throughout the newspaper’s battles with its competitors, saying it was his commitment to high-quality journalism that gave his product the edge.

“They had a plan and he made sure it was implemented in conjunction with the editorial side,” said White, noting Crawley’s “key spend” on The Globe’s staff and its commitment to investigations.

“He’s always, I think, allowed the editorial team to focus on what they’re good at.”

Crawley has also been supportive of ensuring accountability from media organizations, including his own, said John Fraser, executive chair of the National NewsMedia Council, a self-regulatory ethics body for the news media industry in Canada.

“There could not be a council … if he wasn’t agreeable to the control that the press council has over The Globe and Mail and the other papers, that they’re prepared to go along with us as a kind of ethics guardian,” said Fraser.

A former longtime Globe correspondent and columnist who worked at the newspaper prior to Crawley’s arrival, Fraser recalled getting off to a “rocky start” with Crawley when they first met.

Fraser, by then serving as a media columnist for the National Post, had criticized Globe executives as “greedy buggers” for receiving a salary increase while cutting pay for freelancers. When the two were introduced to one another at a reception, Fraser said Crawley took the criticism in stride.

“He’s actually a real newspaperman,” said Fraser, who said Crawley’s greatest achievement is that “The Globe and Mail’s still going in an age of absolutely perilous economics for newspapers.”

“It is still the national newspaper of Canada and you can get it anywhere in the country.”

Thomson also credited Saunders, Crawley’s successor, for helping to lead the newspaper’s transformation from a print-centric organization to a digitally driven model, while emphasizing both subscriptions and advertising.

“His exceptional grasp of the commercial side of the media industry continues to play a crucial role in driving this transition,” Thomson said in a press release.

Crawley called Saunders a “natural leader who lives and breathes the values of The Globe and Mail.”

“He believes in fostering a collaborative culture among staff members, recognizing that a highly engaged team is essential to the success of any organization,” Crawley said in a statement.

“He builds relationships with people from all departments, always with an eye towards The Globe’s long-term growth and success.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2023.

Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press

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