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NY Times Staffers on What Makes a Good Editor

NYtimes buildingWhat makes a good editor? It’s a simple question that can be answered in a variety of ways. It’s completely subjective, of course, but it’s always interesting to hear what people think. The New York Times, as part of its Times Premier package, asked some of its staffers for their thoughts, and below are some highlights.

David Carr:

A good editor is the enemy of clichés and tropes, but not the overburdened writer who occasionally resorts to them.

Frank Bruni:

A great editor makes you feel safe and supported enough to take chances, but pipes up when you’re taking a truly stupid one.

Gretchen Morgenson:

She or he stands behind the reporter throughout any firestorm that ensues. A spine of steel is imperative.

Dean Baquet has Malignant Tumor Removed

Dean Baquet GIt has been an interesting couple of months for Dean Baquet, to say the least. The executive editor of The New York Times had a malignant tumor removed from his kidney on Saturday, only two days after doctors discovered it and felt it required immediate attention.

In a memo to Times staffers, Baquet sounded upbeat about the situation. He described the surgery as “minimally invasive” and “completely successful.” “My doctors have given me an excellent prognosis,” added Baquet.

The Times’ top editor also wrote that while he would be spending a week away from the paper to recover, he would “remain in touch with the newsroom leadership.”

Baquet was named the executive editor of the Times just last month. As you’ve probably heard by now (several times, we imagine), Baquet’s ascension came under murky circumstances in which Jill Abramson was fired.

Hopefully the next couple of months are a lot calmer for Baquet than the last two.

NY Post Says NY Post is Good for You

According to The New York Post, the New York Post — specifically, its gossip section Page Six — is good for you. Why? Because Dr. Samantha Boardman, an assistant attending psychiatrist at the Weill-Cornell Medical Center, wrote it on her blog.

“About 65 percent of people’s discussions involve gossip, and there is an evolutionary explanation for our fascination with other people’s lives,” explained Boardman. “The theory is that natural selection favors knowing as much as you can about other people in your social network, whether they are an authority figure, potential partner, teacher, friend, political ally or enemy.” Therefore, “You don’t have to feel guilty about reading Page Six anymore,” added Boardman.

So there you go. Feel free to talk behind peoples’ backs as often as possible. And read more Page Six, not less. Find out “Where it all went wrong for Rob Kardashian” right away. The more you know about rich strangers, the better off you’ll be.

NY Times’ Nick Bilton Shifts to Styles Section

Nick Bilton, the tech and business columnist for The New York Times, is shifting gears. According to a tweet from Bilton — who also serves as the Times lead writer for its Bits blog — he’s moving to the Styles section.

Bilton will be penning “a column about the way technology is changing society and culture.” His first entry will likely appear in early July.

As part of the change, Bilton is also physically moving — from San Francisco to LA.

HuffPo Media Editor Ponders Other Possible NYT ‘Drug’ Columns

ShutterstockEdibleMarijuanaPerhaps the scariest thing about Huffington Post Media senior editor Jack Mirkinson‘s fun little riff on Maureen Dowd‘s instant-classic “Harsh/Mellow” field trip is that a couple of his suggestions for similar Grey Lady op-eds seem completely reasonable.

In fact, if we didn’t know any better, we could have sworn we already had the following pair of items bookmarked:

After consuming the cocaine that he smuggled through a crumbling American airport, Tom Friedman subjects his cab driver in Bangalore to a deeply intense, four-hour monologue about green capitalism.

Paul Krugman explains how his six-month flirtation with LSD in the early 90s changed how he saw the banking industry.

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NY Times Launches NYT Opinion

The New York Times has decided to give its op-ed columnists more of the spotlight with NYT Opinion, a standalone subscription option and iPhone app. It’s free for Times subscribers, or $6 a month for non-subscribers.

NYT Opinion offers exactly what it sounds like — all the Times’ opinion content, plus curated op-ed content from various publications across the globe.

The Times is trying to get every dollar out there, so the app makes sense. The paper is already paying for the opinion material, might as well see if anyone will ante up some additional cash to subscribe.

That, of course, is the issue. The Times’ opinion columnists aren’t exactly well liked — even when they’re writing about getting high. In fact, they often seem to be the worst part of the paper. We just don’t see much of a market for this app. But you know what they say about opinions.

USA Today Adds Digital Etiquette Columnist

BrucePetrowPicIt’s nice to see an advice columnist entering the pages of a daily newspaper full of life, rather than hearing about another such Dear-Blank journalist exiting, full of fatigue.

Steven Petrow officially introduced himself to USA Today readers yesterday. His column “Your Digital Life” will appear online Mondays and Fridays, with one or the other of these also being reprinted in the paper’s USA Weekend section:

I’m here to help. For more than a decade I’ve penned manners columns for the Washington Post, the New York Times and other magazines and websites. I’ve also written five etiquette books and am now working on my sixth, Mind Your Digital Manners: Life In An Age Without Rules

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Dean Baquet: ‘I Never Said to Anyone It’s Me or Jill’

We hope you’re not tired of the Jill Abramson/New York Times drama, because it appears that Dean Baquet — the new executive editor of the paper — isn’t. He gave a long interview with NPR, and touched on several storylines that have been floating around.

Baquet denied the rumor that he had told Arthur Sulzberger Jr. he needed to fire Abramson or he would walk. ”I never said to anyone it’s me or Jill,” he told NPR. “I think that’s a simplistic calculation. I don’t think there’s any question that I made it known that I was a little unhappy.”

As for that unhappiness, Baquet confirmed that he was upset Abramson wanted to hire The Guardian’s Janine Gibson as a co-managing editor. He also poured more fuel on the narrative that Abramson wasn’t well liked in the newsroom:

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NY Times Prints Typo on Front Page

Look closely at the front page of today’s New York Times. Notice anything? If nothing jumps out right away, concentrate on the second headline and see if you can spot the typo.

If you still can’t see it, we’ve highlighted the error below. One question: How many Times staffers do you think are getting screamed at today? Please leave your relies in the comments.

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Number of Minorities Employed by Newspapers Remains Static

Lost amid the drama surrounding The New York Times firing Jill Abramson is the hiring of Dean Baquet. Baquet is important not only because he’s the Times’ first black executive editor, but as the Pew Research Center notes, his accession highlights the lack of minorities employed by newspapers.

Over the last 18 years, the number of minority staffers and supervisors at newspapers has remained essentially static, accounting for one out of every 10 positions. In 1994, minorities accounted for about 11 percent of newspapers’ workforce. In 2012, that number had barely budged to 12 percent.

While things are better for minorities when it comes to local TV news, it’s not by much. In 2004, minorities accounted for 21 percent of the local TV news workforce. In 2012, the percentage was unchanged.

[Image: Pew Research Center]

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