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