The New York Times Company is engaged in a “coordinated attempt” to hire BBC director general Mark Thompson as its new CEO, the Guardian reports. Thompson will be out of a job after the London Olympics and is weighing his options, reportedly taking two meetings in London about the spot vacated when Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. fired Janet Robinson in December. After her ouster, as Joe Hagan reported for New York, there was “a wave of anxiety and antagonism at the paper, especially after it was revealed that her exit package amounted to almost $24 million, nearly half the company’s profits in 2011.”
The search for Robinson’s replacement has not been rushed, with Sulzberger acting as interim CEO amid rumors that his cousin, Michael Golden, who runs the Boston Globe, was angling for the job. Hagan writes:
It raises the question of what the next CEO of the Times will be running when he or she shows up, and how much authority and power he or she will have under the thumb of the family, led by Sulzberger, who, in the pretzel logic of the Times’ management structure, will be both his or her boss, as chairman, and his or her underling, as publisher—a situation that denies a leader any real authority. As one former Times executive asked, “How are they going to recruit somebody in that environment who is going to have to deal with Arthur?”
Thompson, though, has some experience as a new boss replacing a predecessor who was abruptly shown the door. He became BBC director general after Greg Dyke, who previously held the job, was ousted because of a politically loaded scandal over the BBC’s reporting on the lead-up to the Iraq War. That could come in handy.