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NY Times Washington Bureau Chief David Leonhardt to Step Down, Carolyn Ryan to Take Over [Updated]

NYtimes buildingPolitico is reporting that David Leonhardt, The New York Times’ Washington bureau chief, is stepping down and will be replaced by Carolyn Ryan, the Times’ political editor.

Leonhardt has been with the Times since 1999, and was named Washington bureau chief in 2011. He succeeded Dean Baquet, who was bumped up to managing editor.

Ryan was named political editor in May of this year. She previously served as the paper’s metro editor.

We reached out to the Times for comment and further information. We’ll update when we hear back.

Update (12:55 pm):
Jill Abramson sent out a memo explaining the changes. Leonhardt will now oversee a new vertical that will focus on the intersection of data and news (read: a new FiveThirtyEight). Also, the Times is launching a “tip sheet” startup for fans of Washington. Carl Hulse will be managing it. See below for Abramson’s full note.

Dear Colleagues,

With the 2014 election cycle about to gain full speed, I’m thrilled to announce the launch of two newsroom start ups as well as the appointment of a new Washington Bureau Chief, Carolyn Ryan.

The first of these new ventures will be at the nexus of data and news and will produce clear analytical reporting and writing on opinion polls, economic indicators, politics, policy, education, and sports. Several months ago, a newsroom committee set out to find a leader and an innovator who is comfortable with numeracy and adept at finding the story in the numbers. All roads led to David Leonhardt, who will be the Managing Editor of this start up. David will manage a newly assembled team of reporters, graphics editors, economists, historians and political scientists. After a successful run as Washington Bureau Chief, David returns to his roots: explaining complicated stuff to our readers in his own engaging voice. Under David’s leadership of the Washington Bureau our coverage continued to lead on everything from the Supreme Court to National Security. He has revamped our economic coverage and transformed the Washington report on the web.

The second start up is an early morning news tip sheet that sets up the Washington day for our readers, much as the popular New York Today report does for our readers in the metropolitan area. It will point out events and stories of interest in the political realm and be written with voice and edge. It will harvest the best tweets of bureau reporters and aggregate other elements from the Washington news report. The Managing Editor of this start up has to be someone who knows every cranny of the Capitol and the inside dope about Congress and the White House. The editor also has to have perfect pitch for what is interesting and important and for how to separate this from all the noise out there. The best candidate for this job was just as obvious: Carl Hulse. Carl will not only be Managing Editor of this start up, he will also continue to write agenda-setting pieces for the home and front pages as Chief Washington Correspondent.

David Sanger, who held that distinction for seven years writing on a range of issues from the global economy to terrorism will now concentrate on cyber warfare and national security issues.

The work of the start ups (both to be named later) will be done by existing and new staff. There will be more to say on that soon.

Carolyn Ryan, an inspired and energetic editor with an eye for talent will become our new Washington Bureau Chief. Carolyn’s leadership skills and her deep understanding of politics have been evident in our coverage of countless high-impact stories, like the New York City mayoral race and the downfall of Eliot Spitzer. A former deputy managing editor of The Boston Globe, she has proven herself as a leader of our most sensitive political reporting. She has also mastered policy issues, like health and the environment. Her tenure as political editor has already resulted in agenda-setting pieces and fantastic new hires. Since it no longer makes sense to separate political coverage from the rest of the Washington report, Carolyn will reintegrate them, coordinating a team of reporters in New York as well as the entire Washington bureau.

These changes will take effect Dec. 15.

— Jill

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