In the last 10 days The New York Times has seen several senior editors and writers take jobs elsewhere, and at a certain point you have to wonder if the Gray Lady is starting to sweat. John Koblin of WWD got Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the paper, to comment on losing the Op-Ed Editor (David Shipley), the Business section Editor (Tim O’Brien) a Middle East correspondent (Dexter Filkins), a senior tech writer (Ashlee Vance), and The New York Times Magazine Food Editor (Christine Muhlke), all within a short time. Keller attempts to be as nonchalant as possible:
We’ve had raids before, and every case is its own thing. If there’s a theme to the recent departures, I think it’s that now the recruiters are less likely to be traditional competitors — WaPo, LAT, WSJ. Now the big-money offers come from a newer competitive set — HuffPo, Bloomberg, etc. — that are suddenly investing in, pardon the expression, content. It may represent a recognition that aggregation isn’t everything.
Try as he might, it’s easy to pick up on the bitterness in Keller’s comment. It sounds like the losses might finally be catching up with him and the Times. Especially when O’Brien, who is going to the Huffington Post, offers up his reason for leaving the paper after so many years:
We’re all standing in the middle of this digital tsunami that’s washing across the journalism landscape.
Let’s hope Keller has a lifeboat.