Jill Abramson will succeed Bill Keller as executive editor of the New York Times, the paper announced on Thursday. Abramson, a former investigative reporter and Washington bureau chief who has served as managing editor since 2003, will be the first woman in the paper’s 160-year history to serve as editor.
In addition, the Times announced that Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet will become the new managing editor. Both appointments will be effective on September 6, 2011.
Keller, who became executive editor in 2003, is stepping down to become a full-time writer at the paper’s new Sunday opinion section. In his last three months as executive editor, Keller had been writing a column for the redesigned Times Magazine, using the space to position the paper in opposition to new media, most notably the Huffington Post.
Keller appointed Abramson as his managing editor in 2003. Born and raised in New York, she joined the Times in 1997 from the Wall Street Journal, where she had served as a deputy bureau chief and an investigative reporter. She became Washington editor in 1999, and Washington bureau chief a year later.
Her appointment as managing editor was part of an effort, in the Times’ words, to “restore confidence in the paper” after the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal that saw the forced resignation of former executive editor Howell Raines.
As the Times noted, Abramson’s appointment is somewhat uncharacteristic for the Times, “which has historically chosen executive editors who have ascended the ranks through postings in overseas bureaus and managing desks like Foreign or Metropolitan.”
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper’s publisher, made the announcement at a newsroom-wide meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. Abramson, Keller, and Baquet spoke as well.
"In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” Abramson told the Times, in an article published shortly before the 11 o’ clock meeting. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth."