The Media Oxpecker: We Won’t Have Keller To Kick Around Anymore

Every Friday we round up media & tech industry news you may have missed while you were busy shopping at diploma mills.


Our hearts are heavy this week with the knowledge that New York Times executive editor Bill Keller — who has courageously railed against modern scourges such as the printing press and who inadvertently coined the name of this column back in March — will step down in September.

Keller will continue to pen columns for the Times Magazine, columns that Gabriel Sherman says “became notorious as an expression of old-media id” and developed into a source of frustration among some of the less-technophobic members of the Times newsroom. Sherman reports that the Times‘ media desk went so far as to stage an “intervention” with Keller, although media columnist David Carr later disputed that characterization.

Replacing Keller will be Jill Abramson, who by all accounts “gets it” when it comes to the web and won’t be the rich source of fodder for this column that her predecessor was. Nevertheless, while applauding the choice of Abramson, Felix Salmon says that the Times still has a lot of catching up to do:

I don’t expect the NYT to suddenly switch to the way I wrote about the NYT yesterday — out in the open, updating as new information emerged, incorporating and linking to the best reporting done not only in-house but by everybody else as well. That works some of the time, especially on blogs, but not so much for a newspaper of record where anything in the printed version, especially, has to be nailed down before it’s published.

On the other hand, more engagement and transparency about how the NYT does what it does can only be a good thing. When your public statements are lawyered-up, cryptic, and defensive, people are going to trust what you say much less than if you’re open and accessible.

I’m hopeful that, in Abramson, Sulzberger has found the right person to help the NYT evolve into a 21st-Century news organization. She’s good at encouraging those members of the newsroom who intuitively understand and use the power of social media. And she also has the respect of more old-school reporters who are mistrustful of new media realities and who need effective leadership on the part of the executive editor before they change the way they work.

Abramson will be the first female editor in the Times‘ 160-year history, marking what Poynter’s Jill Geisler calls “a victory [for women], both real and symbolic.”


  • Earlier this week, PBS was attacked by hackers unhappy with a recent Frontline episode that was perceived as being unfavorable towards alleged WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning. The attack, which as of last night the organization was still working to fix, exposed thousands of PBS employees’ passwords and resulted in a fake story being published on the PBS site saying that Tupac Shakur is still alive.

    While PBS worked to restore its site, it used its various social media accounts to continue publishing during the disruption.

  • Google wants to get so smart it can answer your questions without having to link you elsewhere. At the same time, it’s extending its +1 button to web publishers, giving them a new way to highlight their content in search results by putting the buttons on their own pages.

  • Groupon and Expedia are entering into an unholy alliance to create a travel deals site: Groupon Getaways. Over at The Awl, Choire Sicha marvels at the “fiscal horrors” of Groupon’s planned IPO.
  • The Newspaper Association of America says that newspaper ad revenue declined by 7 percent in the 1st quarter of 2011. Digital revenue doubled during the same period, but not enough to offset
    print losses.
  • The number of people watching video on the internet is expected to nearly double by 2015, if projections by Cisco are to be believed.
  • The word “asshole” first appeared in the pages of the New Yorker in 1994, and other fun profanity facts.
  • On recent National Magazine Award winner Garden & Gun: “It’s a regional publication to its very core but, in recent years, the magazine has also landed on the coffee tables of New York-based editors.”
  • And finally, this week in WTF: A Malaysian court has ordered a man to apologize on Twitter 100 times over three days after losing a defamation case. Bill Keller must be appalled.
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