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The New York Times Shakes Up Its Masthead

Jill Abramson has been named the paper’s first female executive editor. By KEACH HAGEY | 6/2/11 10:57 AM EDT Updated: 6/2/11 1:46 PM EDT Politico   Jill Abramson has been named The New York Times’s first female executive editor, succeeding Bill Keller in an historic and sudden shakeup of the paper’s top masthead announced Thursday. Dean Baquet, the paper’s assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief who became a kind of journalistic folk hero when he refused to cut staff as editor of the Los Angeles Times, will replace Abramson as managing editor. “Jill and Dean together is a powerful team,” Keller, who will return to writing, told the Times’s Jeremy Peters. “Jill’s been my partner in keeping The Times strong through years of tumult. At her right hand, she will have someone who ran a great American newspaper, and ran it through tough times. That’s a valuable skill to have. Besides the potent symbolism of having a woman and an African-American in the top two jobs in the one of the world’s most influential newspapers, the move represents the rise of a new regime with deep political experience, since both Abramson and Baquet have taken a turn leading the newspaper’s Washington bureau. Abramson’s background is in contrast to that of Keller’s, a Pulitzer Prize winner who climbed the ranks through the paper’s foreign desk, reporting from Moscow and Johannesburg before becoming managing editor in 1997. Keller took the helm of the paper in 2003 amid the fallout from the Jayson Blair scandal and was widely respected for restoring stability to the institution and steering it through some of its most challenging days as newspapers’ business model was eaten away by the Web. But in the past year, Keller has taken a number of public, combative postures out of character with his predecessors, picking fights with Arianna Huffington and gleefully zinging Fox News. Keller extended this unusually public role by launching his own column in The New York Times Magazine in March — a move that, in hindsight, seems like a clear signal that he didn’t intend to be the top editor much longer. At the time, many media watchers questioned the wisdom of such a move, since Keller had shown a taste for controversy and any dust he kicked up in his column would inevitably settle over the institution as a whole. Abramson has long been considered heir to The New York Times’s top job. A year ago, she took a break from her managing editor duties to completely immerse herself in digital operations and technology, just as the paper was getting really serious about erecting a paywall, but top editors felt it had not yet fully integrated its print and digital newsrooms. Baquet was one of three editors to take over Abramson’s managing editor duties for two months at a time, along with Susan Chira, the foreign editor, and Larry Ingrassia, the business editor. The move fueled speculation at the time that Keller, who will turn 65 in 2014, might be considering an early retirement, but Keller rejected that notion. “Are we auditioning the next managing editor? No. Or the next executive editor? No. It’s nothing as crude as a bake-off; it’s not ‘Dancing With the Stars,’” Keller told the Times’s Stephanie Clifford, adding that it was “a chance to learn more” about the three editors. The Times launched its paywall in March. Abramson joined the Times in 1997 from The Wall Street Journal, where she had been deputy bureau chief and an investigative reporter. She became the Times’s Washington bureau chief in 2000. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/56097.html#ixzz1O8u0v7zO