Bill Keller

Keller: There were 3 New York Times innovation reports

It’s All Journalism

In a podcast Friday, former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said two innovation reports preceded the much publicized 2014 report by Arthur Gregg Sulzberger. Keller wrote the first in 2005 and Jill Abramson wrote the second in 2009.

Keller’s report advised that The Times had to stop treating the Web as “a secondary function,” and stated that the paper needed to “completely integrate” the digital side of the newsroom. Abramson’s report came after she “immersed herself in the web” for six months and came up with some proposals, Keller told It’s All Journalism:

What they all have in common is this kind of urgent tone. The one that I wrote in 2005 sounded like a manifesto. In fact, I wrote it sort of assuming some people would object to it, and everybody immediately said, ‘oh yeah, that’s right, I guess we better do that.’

They all make the same point, which is old media still has a ways to go to overcome the cultural and psychological habits that are rooted in the old world.

Nieman Journalism Lab called the most recent Times innovation report “one of the key documents of this media age.” The report warned of decreasing homepage traffic and concluded that The Times was not growing its digital audience fast enough. Read more


Tennessean will use data, not ‘the journalist’s gut,’ to make decisions

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 (ha ha, OK, you got me, it’s more than 10) media stories.

  1. 21st Century Fox won’t pursue Time Warner: Rupert Murdoch sent a honcho-to-honcho email to Jeffrey L. Bewkes Tuesday afternoon, notifying the Time Warner chief he was withdrawing his previous offer. (NYT) | “Arguably, shareholders had scuttled” the deal already, Brian Stelter writes: “21st Century Fox shares had dropped nearly 10% since the initial bid for Time Warner earlier this summer.” (CNN) | “Long media nerd earnings day. Was going to be fun. But now… [sad trombone]” (@pkafka) | “One large Fox investor said the market is worried about Murdoch’s discipline when it comes to deal-making,” Cristina Alesci reported Tuesday morning. (CNN) | Time Warner revenue was up 3 percent in the second quarter of 2014 over the same period the year before. HBO’s revenue was up 17 percent. (Variety) || Former corporate mate Time Inc. released earnings, too: Revenue was down 1.6 percent. (WWD) | An analyst tells Nicole Levy more layoffs are possible at Time Inc. (Capital)
  2. Tennessean’s “newsroom of the future” will have fewer employees: Everyone will have to reapply for new jobs at the Gannett-owned paper, Executive Editor Stefanie Murray writes. (The Tennessean) | Blake Farmer reports: “Currently, the headcount is at 89. There are 76 positions on the new org chart.” (Nashville Public Radio) | Read: Fewer editors. The reporting staff will grow from 37 to 43, Murray told Poynter in a phone call Tuesday evening. Management positions will fall from 17 to 10. The goal is “self-sufficient reporters producing publication-ready copy,” Murray said. New roles include audience analysts, engagement editors, storytelling coaches and content strategists, and coverage will be determined by listening to readers and gaining a deep understanding of audience analytics: “We’re going to use research as the guide to make decisions and not the journalist’s gut,” she said. The reapplication process should be complete by mid-September, Murray said. || Farmer reported The Tennessean is one of Gannett’s “beta” newsrooms, and indeed, Gannett’s Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Times is undergoing a “sweeping reconfiguration” as well. (Citizen-Times)
  3. The NSA stunk up The Intercept’s scoop: The spy agency gave documents to AP reporter Eileen Sullivan after The Intercept asked about them. “After seeing you had the docs, and the fact we had been working with Eileen, we did feel compelled to give her a heads up,” Ryan Grim reports an NSA official told Intercept EIC John Cook in a conference call. “We thought she would publish after you.” (HuffPost) | Sullivan is “no govt shill,” former AP reporter Matt Apuzzo tells Grim in a very interesting discussion. (@mattapuzzo) | The Intercept’s story. | AP’s story.
  4. A look at RT: Mashable interviews current and foreign journalists: Former RT reporter Sara Firth says, “The problem comes if you have information that isn’t in line with what RT is saying. That’s never going to get on air.” RT host Anissa Naouai tells Mashable: “I’m not necessarily sure that after RT I’d want to work for the media.” (Mashable) | Related: David Remnick on Vladimir Putin’s “New Anti-Americanism” (The New Yorker)
  5. Article from Washington Post’s new “Storyline” project takes grisly editor’s note: “Several passages have been removed from this story because the source of those passages, Mickyel Bradford, has admitted to fabricating them,” a note on Jeff Guo‘s story about “The black HIV epidemic” reads. (The Washington Post) | Because of the way the story framed Bradford’s false narrative, “readers might have supposed that Guo was right there, witnessing the interactions between the two men.” (The Washington Post) | Related: “For woman in New York Times hoarding article, a long wait for an editor’s note” (The Washington Post)
  6. BuzzFeed has a new president: Greg Coleman has worked at The Huffington Post and at the advertising agency Criteo. The latter résumé item “is increasingly valuable as publications work to counter the downward march of rates for traditional online advertising,” Ravi Somaiya writes. (NYT)
  7. Dan Snyder’s small media empire: Dave McKenna details the Redskins owner’s never-ending search for friendly coverage. “Lots of the worst things about modern sports marketing—team-produced programming and team-owned news operations—were Snyder innovations.” (Deadspin)
  8. HuffPost moving into Middle East: Plans to “launch an Arabic-language edition aimed at the growing number of young people in the Middle East with mobile devices.” The staff will be based in London. (The Guardian)
  9. Bill Keller says NYT Co. shouldn’t test employees for marijuana use: Current policy “proves that reports of the death of irony are much exaggerated,” he says in a Reddit AMA. (Poynter) | Related: Snoop Dogg asked Times Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal “whats wrong wit a lil wake n bake??” during another AMA Tuesday. (Mediaite) | Rosenthal invited him to visit the Times building, Paul Smalera reports, explaining that “wake and bake” is “a slang term for the act of smoking marijuana upon rising in the morning.” (NYT) | “‘With Juice, Gin’” (@mattfleg)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Mirta Ojito will be director of news standards for Telemundo. Formerly, Ojito was an assistant professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. (Telemundo) | Mike Nizza will be executive editor of the as-yet unlaunched Bloomberg Politics website. Formerly, Nizza was digital editor at Esquire. (Fishbowl DC) | Lauren Kern will be executive editor of New York Magazine. Previously, she was deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. (Capital New York) | Job of the day: The (Tupelo) Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal is looking for a law enforcement reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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Keller: NYT’s drug-testing ‘is increasingly difficult to defend’

Reddit | Facebook | Gawker | The Huffington Post

During a question-and-answer session on Reddit today, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said the paper’s policy for drug testing its employees for marijuana is “increasingly difficult to defend” in light of the editorial board’s pro-pot stance.

Keller was taking questions to promote The Marshall Project, a nonprofit startup dedicated to covering the U.S. criminal justice system.

When a commenter asked Keller what he thought of the paper’s drug-testing policy, he said “reports of the death of irony are much exaggerated.” When another commenter asked about the policy in a reply, he gave a more detailed answer:

“I make a policy of not second-guessing my former colleagues in public, but I agree (and expect a lot of people at the NYT do, too) that the inconsistency is increasingly difficult to defend.”

The Times editorial board recently endorsed legalization of marijuana and featured a series of articles on its stance that included a trippy tour through The Times’ evolving position on marijuana legalization.

New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal said in a Reddit AMA Tuesday that The New York Times should stop testing employees for marijuana use:

“The issue of drug testing is a matter of corporate policy, and I don’t make corporate policy, and neither does anyone else in the editorial department. I was asked about this the other day by Chris Hayes and I said that if they asked me, I would say we should stop testing for marijuana use, but that I’m not all that sure I will be asked.”

Gawker’s J.K. Trotter reported last month that the Times was among eight large media companies that still drug-test employees. “Our corporate policy on this issue reflects current law,” a Times spokesperson told Michael Calderone after the editorial board endorsed legalizing weed. Read more

Medical Marijuana Ads

NYT runs a pot ad

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. NYT runs a pot ad: Sunday’s paper had a full page ad on page 19 of the A-section from Leafly, which connects marijuana users to dispensaries and reviews weed strains. After the paper’s editorial board endorsed legalizing pot, “it just seemed like the right time,” a brand manager at the company that backs Leafly told Lucia Moses (Digiday) | “We accept ads for products and services that are legal and if the ad has met our acceptability standards,” Times spokesperson Linda Zebian says. (WSJ)
  2. Tribune Publishing is on its own as of tomorrow: “For now, plans to sell the Tribune newspapers, once widely reported, are off the table,” Christine Haughney reports. (NYT) | Expect a replacement for L.A. Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein “to be named within weeks.” He’s Tribune Publishing’s Non-executive Chairman of the Board now. (LAT)
  3. A bright spot in a rough summer for Canadian journalists? Maybe all the recent layoffs mean big publishers in the True North finally have a plan. (Craig Silverman)
  4. Why did ESPN move “Outside the Lines” to ESPN2? The show’s ratings plunge when it shifts, “a curious move for a show that ESPN pitches heavy when it wants to sell its journalistic imprint,” Richard Deitsch writes. ESPN exec Norby Williamson tells Deitsch you gotta look at ratings for everything overall. (SI) | OTL’s piece on how Jim Kelly is dealing with cancer. (ESPN)
  5. Why Glenn Greenwald made his own pie charts: David Carr “mentioned that he now works for a digital news site that has a $250 million endowment from Mr. Omidyar and some very talented data journalists and graphic artists.” Greenwald: “Yeah, I know, but I would have had to wait and I didn’t want to wait.” (NYT)
  6. Music journalists for sale: A business called Fluence lets you pay journalists to listen to your music. (The Fader) | Related: Ally Schweitzer on hip-hop artists paying bloggers. (WAMU)
  7. The Boston Globe plans buyouts: They’re “not meant as a cost-cutting exercise in the newsroom,” Globe Editor Brian McGrory tells the newsroom. (Poynter)
  8. The Marshall Project publishes first story: Maurice Possley‘s story about a Texas execution runs in partnership with The Washington Post. (The Marshall Project, The Washington Post) | “Please note – we’re still a work in progress. We plan to launch in full this fall,” MP EIC Bill Keller writes in a release. | More new news: Next Media Animation will set up staff in 10 U.S. cities. (CJR)
  9. Times-Picayune tweaks home-delivery schedule: During football season, if you subscribe to Sunday, Wednesday and Friday delivery, you’ll get “bonus papers” on Saturday and Monday. Tuesdays and Thursdays the Picayune will be newsstand-only, but those editions will be broadsheet, not tabloid. Nola Media Group’s James O’Byrne throws shade at competitor The Advocate in the comments. ( | Advocate Editor Peter Kovacs: “We don’t need 500 words to explain New Orleans Advocate home delivery schedule. Two words are sufficient: Seven Days.” (@PKovacs7)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Tom Johnson will be executive editor for the new politics vertical from Bloomberg News. Johnson was senior broadcast producer of “World News With Diane Sawyer”. Patrick King will be senior producer of the vertical. Formerly, he was a segment producer with “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” (Bloomberg) | Alex Postman has been named deputy editor for Self. Formerly, she was executive editor at Rodale Books. Maureen Dempsey will be site director for Self. Previously, she was executive digital editor at Martha Stewart Weddings ( | Job of the day: The Portland Mercury is looking for an arts editor. Get your résumés in! (The Portland Mercury) | Send Ben your job moves:

Suggestions? Corrections? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: Read more


Ken Armstrong joins The Marshall Project

Armstrong. Photo by Steve Ringman (The Seattle Times)

Ken Armstrong, an investigative reporter for The Seattle Times, will join the staff of The Marshall Project in the coming weeks, Marshall Project editor-in-chief Bill Keller confirmed Tuesday.

Armstrong, who has worked at The Seattle Times for about 11 years, said he made the move partly because The Marshall Project will give him an opportunity to tell stories in a variety of different ways. He’s already pitched stories for radio, magazine stories and “classic long-term investigations,” he said.

Armstrong began talking with Keller about the possibility of working full-time for The Marshall Project after submitting a freelance pitch for the site in March, Keller said. He assigned the pitch, and Armstrong followed up with a list of stories he’d like to cover.

Although The Marshall Project is based in New York City, Armstrong will remain in Seattle and take trips to visit the staff in New York, Keller said. That will give Armstrong a chance to stay in touch with his current coworkers: “I’ll be desperately lonely in three months and I’ll be calling them for lunch and hoping that they say yes,” he said.

Armstrong is the sixth staff writer hired to work at the nonprofit journalism startup dedicated to covering the criminal justice system, Keller said. He hopes to add two more reporters and grow the total staff to about 20 before the project launches in the fall.

Armstrong and his colleague Michael Berens won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for “Methadone and the Politics of Pain,” a three-part series that examined the impact of the painkiller methadone on Washington’s poorer residents, according to his website. He also shared the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting, which was awarded to the staff of The Seattle Times for its coverage of the slaying of four Lakewood police officers. Read more


In an interview with Joe Coscarelli, Marshall Project editor-in-chief Bill Keller talked about the startup’s coming launch, and what he learned from watching the launches of FiveThirtyEight, Vox and First Look Media’s The Intercept:

Well, one thing that stuck out — I watched with great interest the launch of the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald’s venture. Because that is a very different undertaking but what it has in common is that it doesn’t have an established business model. At least in the outset, it’s going to be dependent on the confidence of backers with resources. In that case, one backer with resources. Glenn kind of launched with a bang and then disappeared for a while. You could see in the Twittersphere, and in the comments, that readers were sort of bewildered by that. The lesson I’m inclined to draw from that is that you should launch when you can sustain. Once you’ve whetted people’s appetite, you need to deliver.

Joe Coscarelli, New York


Marshall Project founder Neil Barsky tells Newsweek’s Zach Schonfeld how he hired Bill Keller away from The New York Times — “I literally, randomly emailed him” — and why he’s not concerned about criticism from Gawker:

Gawker!? I believe the fundamental underpinning of any news organization is excellence. The principles of journalism hasn’t changed; the technology has. The principles of journalism are transparency, fairness, thoroughness, intellectual honesty, and creativity. Bill embodies those goals.

Now, we’re going to have a big staff. We’re going to have web designers. We’re going to have IT professionals. We’re going to have social media editors. And we are going to be living in the world that exists, not the world that did exist. I don’t break the world down between old media and new media. I think any news organization has to live in the world we live in. That’s what Bill believes, and that’s what I believe.

1 Comment

Former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller discusses the paper’s recent buyouts:

I hated to see Jon Landman leave the paper and I hated to see Joe Sexton leave the paper. … Landman and Sexton were the kind of people who could do just about anything. You feel that sense that your bench has lost a certain nimbleness, and I think [current Executive Editor] Jill [Abramson] would agree with that.

On the other hand, I think it made her job in some ways harder that she decided to focus it on non-Guild — more of the higher-end editors. But it was a shrewd thing to do, A. because we’d just been through a rough time with the Guild and it was a way of saying, “You’re not the only ones who are bearing the burden around here, and B. frankly because people who are higher up in the pyramid make more money. So you lose fewer people to hit your dollar target.

Jeff Bercovici, Forbes


WikiLeaks says it created fake Bill Keller column

Gizmodo | The Guardian | VentureBeat | All Things D
Imagine this sentence getting past a New York Times copy editor: “The ACLU has shown through its government FOIA requests of WikiLeaks published cables, pretending secrets are secret after they are public isn’t easy.” Yet a piece about WikiLeaks purportedly by former Times executive editor Bill Keller clanging with such clunkers fooled “pretty much everybody,” as a Gizmodo headline put it.

WikiLeaks tweeted Sunday that it had perpetrated the hoax piece. The fake was successful in part, Ed Pilkington writes in the Guardian, because “Visually, it was immaculate – replicating perfectly the typographic style of his column down to the author’s photograph, tool kit and Times adverts.” Read more


Keller drops NYT Magazine column, will write for op-ed page

Women’s Wear Daily
Bill Keller says it was his decision to end the magazine column, which started in March with editor Hugo Lindgren’s redesign of the magazine. “The magazine column has been fun – and I’ve loved being part of Hugo’s relaunch – but op-ed has greater license to have opinions, and a day-before deadline,” Keller tells John Koblin. Lindgren says Keller’s columns “were smart, well-written, fun to read.” What did he think of Read more


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