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Times Names New Public Editor

nyt_050307.jpgMemo [via the Observer] from executive editor Bill Keller:

Colleagues:

This month Barney Calame concludes his tour in what I have occasionally referred to as the most thankless job in journalism. We recruited Barney to be our Public Editor because of his unquestioned integrity and his lifelong commitment to the highest standards of journalism. Through thick and thin, he has demonstrated that integrity and that commitment. The job may be thankless, but Barney is not: I’m immensely grateful for the great service he has performed for this paper.

As my job description suggests, high on the list of attributes we look for in our public editors is the ability to stand up gracefully under fire. In addition to a thick skin, the job calls for a clear head, curiosity, patience and a deep respect for the values we profess — impartiality, fairness, accuracy and independence. All of us who have spent time with Clark Hoyt over the past couple of months believe he has those qualities. On May 14, he will become our third Public Editor.

Clark has spent 38 years with Knight Ridder newspapers as a reporter, editor and executive. As a reporter, he shared a Pulitzer, and as an editor he earned a reputation as a reporter’s editor. Until the sale of Knight Ridder last year, he was, for seven years, the Knight Ridder Washington Editor. In that role he presided over a body of aggressive reporting in the runup to the war in Iraq — journalism that has been widely praised for sometimes being more skeptical about the pre-war intelligence than bigger news organizations, including our own.

I don’t intend to reconstruct the selection process, but I can say that we had no shortage of candidates. I can say that after much discussion about the nature of the job, we decided that we preferred to continue the practice of selecting someone from outside, although we had excellent prospects from within The Times family. We wanted someone with a deep understanding of how serious news organizations work, although he will be examining a news organization that is evolving into something of a print-digital hybrid, with all the challenges that presents.

We expect him to hold us accountable to our own standards, to serve as an advocate for the interests of readers, and to give readers an independent eye into the workings of this great news organization. Clark will take the job for a fixed term of two years, with the clock to start running after a few weeks of orientation. I hope you’ll all join me in giving him a warm welcome.

Best,
Bill

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