The Washington Post has tapped veteran journalist Martin Baron as its top editor, ending the rocky four-year tenure of Marcus Brauchli, who presided over the newspaper as it tried to adapt to digital journalism while its print circulation steadily declined.

"We are thrilled to have Marty Baron lead the Washington Post's newsroom," said Katharine Weymouth, the Post's publisher. "He has a demonstrated record of producing the highest quality journalism."

Baron, 58, who hailed the Post's "defining and inspirational role in American journalism," will join the newspaper on Jan. 2, after an 11-year stint at the Boston Globe.

Brauchli, 51, will become a vice president of the Washington Post Co. and will focus on broadening its digital media offerings.

"Marcus has contributed immeasurably in the more than four years he has been at the helm of this newsroom," said Weymouth, who has reportedly been considering Brauchli's ouster for months amid repeated disagreements about the newsroom's budget and staff reductions.

Brauchli is not the only senior editor to exit the Post. Liz Spayd, a managing editor, said in June she would leave at the end of the year. Raju Narisetti, another Post managing editor, joined the Wall Street Journal in February.

Brauchli's tenure coincided with one of the most trying periods in the Post's illustrious history.

Like most print newspapers, circulation has fallen dramatically. According to statistics released last month, the Post's weekday circulation dipped to 434,693 for the print edition, a 9 percent drop in one year and a steep decline from peak weekday circulation of more than 830,000 in the 1990s. Advertising revenues have also deteriorated, which contributed to the newspaper division's $22 million loss in the third quarter.

Mike Hoyt, executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, said it appeared that senior executives wanted a cultural shift.

"His program hasn't worked exactly," Hoyt said. "One hears that morale was not the best, and they figured it was time for a change."

Robert Turner, a former Globe editor and reporter, predicted Baron and his expertise in investigative journalism would be an asset at the Post.

"The Post has a reputation for going after the big story in a big way, and that's certainly a tradition that Marty is in tune with," Turner said. "He's a total pro. He knows the business."