Decades of pursuing the truth

Former MV Times editor George Brennan reflects on his journalism career.


Updated March 28

While The Martha’s Vineyard Times was recognized for its work during the 2024 New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) convention over the weekend, one man was honored for his journalistic contributions in the region: former MV Times news editor George Brennan. 

At the Westin Waltham Boston hotel, Brennan was inducted into the NENPA Hall of Fame on Friday, March 22. The next day, he received the esteemed Yankee Quill Award from the Academy of New England Journalists. The Yankee Quill goes to “extraordinary journalists” for their contributions to a free press and their efforts to improve the communities that they cover.

Brennan is only the second journalist to receive both honors in the same year; Alan White from the Eagle-Tribune received the back-to-back awards in 2014. 

A humble Brennan told the Times that the honor was something he “never would’ve expected.”

“It’s not about one person,” he said. “Everybody I’ve ever worked with has a piece of any recognition I get.”

Former MV Times reporters Brian Dowd and Rich Saltzberg nominated Brennan for his induction into the Hall of Fame, and both had kind words for their former editor.

“There’s no one more deserving of both these awards,” Dowd said. “George is a masterful writer and a phenomenal mentor. Congratulations to the GOAT [greatest of all time].”

“Newspaper greats lead and lede by example,” Saltzberg said. “George is no exception.”

Saltzberg said that Brennan had an uncanny ability of being able to swiftly boil down raw information into a story. 

“‘Write like your hair is on fire,’ was his advice to those in the newsroom,” Saltzberg said. “George would fire off a story, either to fill a gap in the newsletter or because it was something he wanted to tackle, as just a small piece of his morning workload.”

Saltzberg also emphasized during the Yankee Quill ceremony that Brennan always backed up his reporters. 

Brennan got his start in journalism writing for his student newspaper (printed in the local weekly, like the High School View in The MV Times); he also remembers being told by his honors English teachers, “You write too much like a journalist.” The comment has always stuck with him. 

Brennan studied journalism in college before taking an internship with the Patriot Ledger in Quincy. “When I look back on that newsroom, it was an incredible time to be a journalist,” he said. “It was the heyday of community journalism.”

Before diving in fully as a professional journalist, Brennan started off in sales. But realizing that he was miserable in the position, his father left him a newspaper clipping advertising a part-time sports reporter job at the Cape Codder in Orleans. 

“Clearly, he was sending me a message,” Brennan said. Brennan wound up taking a reporter job at a Bourne newspaper instead, which would be a launching pad for his 38-year career. 

Brennan would later join the Sentinel in Marion, a newspaper owned by the now-defunct Memorial Press Group (MPG), where he covered a variety of subjects. 

He credits a lot of what he learned as a journalist to his colleagues at the Memorial Press Group. Eventually, executive editor Mark Pothier, another recipient of the Yankee Quill Award this year, took a chance on Brennan, naming him editor of South of Boston at the age of 25. 

“George’s standards were always a benchmark for others to aspire to, and his tenacity in reporting stories was unparalleled,” Pothier told the Times.

Brennan said he’s still “gobsmacked” that Pothier had such faith in him. He would end his time at MPG as editor of the Old Colony Memorial. 

In 2004, Brennan would move on to become the Upper Cape bureau chief for the Cape Cod Times, a daily paper he worked for up until 2016. 

“Those Cape Cod Times years were intense reporting,” he said. Brennan covered stories like exposing former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe chair Glenn Marshall for his embellished military records, and reporting on up-and-coming Republican Jeff Perry, who allegedly tried to cover up an underling’s sexual assault of two young women while he was at the Wareham Police Department. 

Reflecting on his career, Brennan noted the adjustments journalists have had to make with the rise of the internet. Before, the phone book and sources were the primary way to gather information. “You called three people to find the person you needed for the story,” Brennan said, although he did appreciate the increased accessibility between readers and journalists. 

Brennan also took pride in tracking down sources. He would physically go to where the person might be, whether that be a governor’s office or elsewhere. “As journalists, it is our responsibility to give a chance for people to tell their sides,” he said. 

That journalistic integrity would eventually wash onto the Island. 

Brennan arrived on the Vineyard’s shores in 2017, after being contacted by former MV Times associate publisher Jamie Kageleiry. At the time, Brennan was curating the Talking Points newsletter for the Boston Globe, after taking a buyout from the Cape Cod Times the previous year. 

Brennan wasn’t sure whether he wanted to take on the job, but was persuaded by his wife, Corinne, to at least have a conversation. The ferry bringing Brennan to The Times’ Beach Road headquarters would keep him commuting to the Island for six years, where he served as the newspaper’s leader. 

“When I walked into that building for the first time, I had a visceral feeling this was something I was supposed to do,” Brennan said. 

While Brennan thought this would be a slow gig, the Vineyard turned out to never be lacking in exciting news: “I thought I was going into a sleepy, preretirement job,” he said. “I’m on Martha’s Vineyard … it was anything but.” 

There were various changes that came to The Times under Brennan, like shifting the newspaper into a digital-first publication — including developing the daily Minute newsletter. Brennan said the shift in mindset allowed The Times to more rapidly deliver news to the public. “Vineyard readers were better for that,” he said. “They were better informed.” 

Throughout the often inconvenient nature of the news industry, Brennan was thankful for the support he received from his family. 

“I don’t think people understand it’s tough on the family,” Brennan said, adding that he never missed baseball games or concerts. “I think I did a pretty good job, but the work-life balance is tough.” 

George and Corinne have a daughter named JoJo and a son named Tommy. Of course, you can’t forget the loyal newshound, Frankie. 

And while Brennan may be retired from the news business, he still commutes to Vineyard Haven as manager of development at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. And his passion for journalism will continue in his retirement, as evidenced during speeches he made over the weekend. 

“To those of you still in the trenches, I say: Keep on digging. Keep on writing. Now more than ever, our country needs journalists,” Brennan said during his Yankee Quill acceptance speech.


  1. Congratulations, George. You were a stellar asset to the Vineyard. For which I take full credit. Half credit? Okay, one percent. I’m claiming it.

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