‘New York Times’ Names Margaret Sullivan Public Editor

Will act as reader advocate

The New York Times is getting a new watchdog editor, the newspaper announced today. Margaret Sullivan, who served as editor and vp of the Warren Buffett-owned Buffalo News for the past 12 years, will take the public editor’s post at the Times on Sept. 1, replacing current public editor Arthur Brisbane.

As the Times’ fifth public editor, a position that was created in 2003 following the Jason Blair plagiarism scandal, Sullivan will be responsible for acting as a reader advocate, addressing concerns and critiques and increasing transparency. Sullivan will work “outside of the reporting and editing structure of the newsroom,” according to the Times, and will report to publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

In addition to writing a regular print column, Sullivan will also “focus on a more active online role,” the Times said, including a multimedia blog and a strong social media presence. In a statement, Times’ executive editor Jill Abramson said, “Margaret has exactly the right experience to assume this critical role for us at this time…She has shown adeptness at embracing new platforms and engaging and interacting with readers in real time online, in print and in person.”

According to the Times’ Media Decoder blog, Sullivan signed a four-year contract, which includes the option of leaving after two years or signing on for an additional two years. Brisbane, who took the public editor’s post in June 2010, announced his planned departure as public editor this past May, saying that he would finish out his two-year contract but wouldn’t take the one-year extension option.

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