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Margaret Sullivan on Being New York Times’ Public Editor: ‘I Always Find Something That Seems Compelling’

We’re fans of Margaret Sullivan, The New York Times’ public editor. Since taking over for Arthur Brisbane, she has been making her voice heard. That’s a good thing, even if people sometimes disagree with what she says.

In an interview with Poynter, Sullivan talks about what it’s like being the public editor and discloses that her desk is near the obituary department, which we found sort of oddly fitting. Below are some highlights from the piece.

On relating to Times staffers:

It’s a little bit like covering the police beat from a desk in the cop shop. You can be friendly, you can get to know people, but you probably can’t really be true friends. So far, I think everybody is striking a good balance.

On making her voice heard:

Almost every day I come in and I say, ‘I’m not going to blog today,’ … But I always find something that seems compelling and then I end up writing something. That’s how I feel the most engaged and the most satisfied — if I’m working on something that’s immediate and if I can get it out there on a daily basis.

On being the first female public editor:

We all bring our experiences and our background to what we do. So, being the only woman in many conference rooms full of men, or being the first woman to have various roles such as managing editor and editor, has helped form who I am. But as a mother of a son, a sister of two brothers, and someone happy to have some wonderful male friends, I care about guys, too.

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