The New York Times on Wednesday announced that Dean Baquet will assume the role of executive editor, becoming the first African-American to lead the venerable paper’s newsroom in its 162-year history.
Baquet, 57, has served as the Times’ managing editor since September 2011; he was previously the editor of The Los Angeles Times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 as a reporter for The Chicago Tribune. He replaces Jill Abramson, who was fired after less than three years in the position and had been the paper’s first female executive editor.
Sources told Bloomberg News that Abramson’s ouster came as a “surprise” to many in the newsroom. One source who was present in a staff meeting with Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told Bloomberg that Sulzberger chose to replace Abramson “because he thought new leadership would improve some aspects of the management of the newsroom.” Several media sources, including the Times itself, pointed to ongoing friction between Sulzberger and Abramson as the reason for the latter’s firing.
“I chose to appoint a new leader for our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects of the management of the newsroom,” Sulzberger said in an afternoon meeting with “stunned” staff members, according to a story published by the Times. “You will understand that there is nothing more that I want to say about this. We had an issue with management in the newsroom. And that’s what’s at the heart of this issue.”
“It is an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a generation ago,” Baquet told the Times, “one that approaches the world with wonder and ambition every day.”
Baquet grew up in Louisiana, according a New York magazine profile. After reporting for several New Orleans publications, he moved to the Tribune followed by a stint at The New York Times. He was then hired by The Los Angeles Times, where he was fired in 2006 for refusing to make steep staff cuts.