In preparation for the paper’s switch to a metered pay-wall system for its website next January, Times managing editor Jill Abramson will change hats and oversee the news coverage on nytimes.com. During that time, Larry Ingrassia, Dean Baquet, and Susan Chira will act as managing editors for News, each rotating through the position for two months. According to an internal memo from executive editor Bill Keller, this has more to do with giving those three an opportunity to flex their editor muscles than it does with Abramson experiencing the web more fully. When asked by the Times’ own media reporter if this indicated that Keller himself would be retiring early, Keller said: “No.”
Here’s the memo from Keller to the staff:
Beginning June 1, Jill is going to take a six-month detour from the traditional Managing Editor role to run the news part of the Website and to fully immerse herself in the digital part of our world. Her aim will be to push our integration to the next level, which means mastering all aspects of our digital operation, not only the newsroom digital pipeline but also the company’s digital strategy in all its ramifications. During this time she will largely disengage from day-to-day news coverage.
We have invited three editors – Larry Ingrassia, Dean Baquet and Susan Chira – each to fill in for two months as acting Managing Editor for News. Larry will step up for June and July, Dean for August and September, and Susan for October and November.
No doubt this rotation will be widely analyzed, interpreted and speculated about. (I look forward to hearing and reading a lot of entertaining nonsense.) The real purpose is threefold: 1) to give us a chance to see some of our best editors applying their talents to the entire news report, in print and online, rather than to specific departments; 2) to give these editors a break, a digression, a cobweb-clearing, an adventure; and 3) to allow deputies in their departments to show what they can do with a couple months of greater authority and autonomy.
At the end of these sojourns, we expect the substitutes to return to their department a little smarter and a little refreshed. Jill will return to the ME job ready to guide the final lap of newsroom integration.