July 12, 2018

‘Reporter’s reporter’ Connor becomes Daily Beast exec editor

The Daily Beast didn’t want to pivot on its aggressive, scoop-driven news coverage. It wanted to be even scrappier, even saucier, go after bigger targets.

Tracy Connor wasn’t looking for a new job. A reporter’s reporter, she led scoop after scoop in 15 years at New York’s papers and then in digital and investigations at NBC News. Among the NBC investigations she helped lead: the sex abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar on the U.S. Olympics women’s gymnastics team.

After meeting editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman, just promoted from executive editor, and hearing him explain his vision, Connor says she thought: “This might be the perfect job for me.”

This place, she says, “serves up scoops like Ben & Jerry’s.”

Today, Connor has been named executive editor of The Daily Beast, starting in August. A graduate of both Columbia and the Coney Island Sideshow (although it has been years since she hammered anything into her head), Connor can take the bumps in pursuing big stories.

Shachtman says Connor, revered by journalists such as Michael Daly for her reporting skills, can inspire a 40-member staff that loves journalism and punches above its weight amid digital-first places such as BuzzFeed News, Politico and HuffPost.

The Beast, Shachtman acknowledges, does not have the resources of heavyweights like The New York Times or The Washington Post.

“We’re like the welterweight champ — pound for pound the best fighter,” he says.

Connor’s hiring follows another high-profile addition, Deadspin’s Tim Burke — the person behind the Manti Te'o catfishing scoop and the now-famous "Sinclair video" — as The Beast’s video chief.

Quick hits

CIAO!: Twitter says it will begin removing tens of millions of questionable or “fake” accounts from follower counts of Twitter users starting Thursday. That’s perhaps 6 percent of all accounts. “Many users including those who have bought fake followers and any others who are followed by suspicious accounts, will see their follower numbers fall,” Nicholas Confessore and Gabriel Dance report.

ACCOUNT TO WATCH: On Wednesday, President Trump’s “personal” account — @realDonaldTrump — had 53.4 million followers.

EMERGENCY: At least 70 journalists and media workers are trapped in southwest Syria, between the advancing forces of its brutal Russia-backed dictator and the closed borders of Israel and Jordan, the Committee to Protect Journalists says. CJR says at least 120 journalists have been killed while doing their jobs in Syria since 2011.

HE’S A CRITIC: The New York Times’ Mark Thompson has emerged as one of Facebook’s strongest critics. Is the criticism right on? Kind of late? Opportunistic, with an eye on squeezing some concession from the platform? Digiday’s Lucia Moses writes.

CH-CH-CH GAME CHANGES: Once writing partners in Washington, New York and for Hollywood, political writers John Heilemann and Mark Halperin split last year when Halperin’s career imploded over sexual harassment allegations. Heilemann needs Halperin’s notes on Trump’s team for an upcoming project — but doesn’t want to work with him or share royalties, Paul Farhi reports.

SSSSH!: China has told its state media not to inflame trade war talk with the United States, Reuters reports.

IMPROVING THE GENDER PAY GAP: That’s what the BBC trumpets in an annual report. But only two of its top 20 stars are women, the Guardian’s Mark Sweney reports. The top-paid female announcer, Claudia Winkleman, makes only one-fifth of the highest-paid the highest-paid male on-air personality, a sports presenter.

What we’re reading

HOW WE GOT TO KIDS IN CAGES?: How an heiress and an anti-Semitic eye specialist propelled today’s immigration policy. By Splinter’s Brendan O’Connor.

THE FEMALE RELATIONSHIP RESUME: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is taking a turn from Hollywood actors like Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling, crediting females in his life in a moving — but useless — attempt to show that he is not a typical dude, writes The Washington Post’s new gender columnist, Monica Hesse. You can like a woman without working to change gender bias or other underlying conditions, Hesse writes. She notes that within an hour of Kavanaugh’s nomination, the White House produced 34 testimonials of his work and character. All were written by men.

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Big thanks to Ren LaForme for editing.

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