‘Times’ Names New Writer for Leaderless Lede

You might have noticed that the Lede — the Times’ curiously nonspecific notes-on-the-news blog — has been dormant since the start of the month; its creator, Tom Zeller Jr., abandoned 43rd Street for the more mapperific precincts of National Geographic back in early March. But today the paper announced a new leader for the Lede: Mike Nizza, who’s been the editor of the homepage. In the just-out staff memo announcing the appointment, Jonathan Landman and Jim Roberts have lots of nice things to say about Mike. Which makes us realize perhaps we ought to start reading the thing. We do, after all, have a fondness for curiously nonspecific news-related blogs. The Landman-Roberts memo is after the jump.

Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2007 11:16:25 -0400


From: Jonathan Landman

Subject: [NYT Newsroom] The Lede

To: The Staff
From: Jonathan Landman & Jim Roberts

April 9, 2007

On Friday, Neilsen/NetRatings made what has become a familiar monthly announcement: is the top newspaper Web site in audience size, pageviews and time spent on the site. There are lots of reasons for this, none more important than this one: We have a terrific homepage.

There are lots of reasons for that too, and none more important than this one: We have a terrific homepage editor. He is Mike Nizza, and four years of managing the online presentation of our most important journalism has given him unparalleled insight into how news works on the Web.

Now Mike will turn that experience in a new direction. He’ll become a reporter and will take over our general news blog, The Lede, picking up where Tom Zeller left off when he departed for National Geographic.

The Lede came to life on Nov. 14, 2006, with items about Rudy Giuliani’s new exploratory committee, the rise of “Borat” to No. 1 at the box office, a South African parliamentary measure recognizing gay marriage and a report from Britain suggesting that a Britney Spears sex tape could affect her pending divorce. It was something we had never tried before: a blog without a specific subject, a blog simply about the news. As Tom explained in an e-mail shortly before we launched it: “The blog aims to be a place where stories and themes plucked from the day’s local, national and international news are highlighted and discussed - using the Web and its rich repository of links, archives, images and forums as a resource for adding context, for pushing a thesis further, or for simply sparking a conversation.”

That rich repository is Mike’s playing field and his library. No one, anywhere, is as aware of what our competitors do on the Web or is better equipped to present readers the deep resources that help explain and illuminate the news they are reading. Mike is a first-rate newsman whose spot-on judgment brought to online life our biggest stories, from the shuttle disaster to the fall of Baghdad and the capture of Saddam Hussein, to the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. And as sharp as he is with news, Mike is just as quick in massaging HTML code to allow for unique presentations, as he memorably did during the terror scare at Heathrow Airport last summer and during the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

A graduate of Hunter College, Mike joined the Times in 2000 after working for the Council on Foreign Relations. He has long been a leader among our Web producers. And in the months since the home page operation was moved to the print newsroom, he’s been the source of sound judgment and advice for editors and reporters on the Continuous News Desk.

‘Times’ Names New Writer for Leaderless Lede