June 6, 2011

WE EXIST TO SCRUTINIZE OTHERS...:

Why Bill Keller Stepped Down As Times Executive Editor — And How the Paper’s Staffers Staged an Intervention Over His Column (Gabriel Sherman, 6/2/11, New York Magazine)

He hadn't planned on starting his new job as columnist before his old one ended, but then Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren asked Keller to write for the relaunched weekly. Keller initially proposed mainly covering foreign leaders, but his column soon became notorious as an expression of old-media id. In March he wrote a piece about aggregation and the Huffington Post in which he called bloggers "media recyclers" and media reporters "oxpeckers." Of AOL's $315 million purchase of the Huffington Post, he wrote: "Buying an aggregator and calling it a content play is a little like a company's announcing plans to improve its cash position by hiring a counterfeiter."

Keller's columns infuriated some members of the newsroom, especially the Times' media desk, who felt that the executive editor should be a kind of impartial honest broker. Times media editor Bruce Headlam and media columnist David Carr had an intervention with Keller to explain how his columns were hurting their ability to cover the industry. "I heard from Bruce, Dave, and Brian [Stelter] after the Arianna column had complicated their lives, which it was not intended to do," Keller told me. "Even though I knew I would cause a certain amount of consternation in the building, I decided that was okay because it was worth having a conversation about this."

Then, last month, Keller wrote a column critical of Twitter, calling it "the enemy of contemplation." Inside the Times, the column set off more alarms. Social-media staffers complained that Keller was signaling that he didn't like Twitter even as the paper was trying to encourage reporters to embrace the new tool.


...not to be scrutinized ourselves!

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Posted by at June 6, 2011 4:37 PM
  

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