July 3, 2012

The New York Times has narrowed its pool of candidates for the public editor position and hopes to make an announcement by the end of July, said Glenn Kramon, assistant managing editor for enterprise.

Kramon wouldn’t say just how small the group is, but he allowed that it’s been “narrowed significantly” to fewer than 10 from a finalist pool of 15. Times Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. has started to interview the remaining candidates.

At least two of the leading candidates are women, he said, but he wouldn’t comment further on diversity of the candidates. So far the post has been held by white men, all at least middle-aged.

The Post’s Erik Wemple reported in June that Public Editor Arthur Brisbane would leave on Sept. 1.

This search has been “much more expansive” than the process to find previous public editors, Kramon said, and the Times contacted some people to ask if they were interested in the job. He wasn’t sure how many people had applied for the jobs, though he said there were “scores” of names considered.

Dan Gillmor wrote in the Guardian Monday that the Times asked him to apply for the job, but he’s no longer under consideration. He published a version of the memo that he sent the Times describing how he’d approach the job.

I’d do my best to lower the personal profile of the Public Editor and raise the profile of the public – the audience and those affected by the journalism – using three main techniques: aggregation, curation and discussion.

Bill Keller told me via email that when he was asked for input on how the job should change, he said he’d “deemphasize the weekly column in favor of a more continual, interactive online role.”

Kramon said there’s agreement on that point. “All the candidates hope they can be more timely with some of their work … The Web will be more central to it, including a dialogue with readers.”

Experience in digital journalism was one of the characteristics that my Poynter colleague Craig Silverman said that the Times should seek. Also on his wish list:

  • An existing profile on the Web and social media
  • Some kind of diversity
  • Experience with media criticism or
  • An eagerness to disrupt the job

As for what characteristics the Times is looking for, Kramon said, “First and foremost, somebody who is grounded in daily journalism. And is comfortable with the kind of journalism that is still at the core of what The New York Times does.”

Disclosure: Craig Silverman, who writes Poynter’s “Regret the Error” column, was also asked to submit a memo describing how he’d approach the job. Like Gillmor, he’s not in the running and was not a source for this story. Poynter faculty member Kelly McBride was also a candidate for the job, was not a source for this story, and is no longer in the running.

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Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens,…
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