New York Times Picks 1st Black Executive Editor

The historic nature of Dean Baquet’s appointment, however, is overshadowed by the sudden departure of his female predecessor.

Dean Baquet
Dean Baquet The New York Times

Veteran Journalist Is First African American in Role

Dean Baquet, managing editor of the New York Times and former top editor at the Los Angeles Times, was named executive editor on Wednesday after Jill Abramson stepped down from the New York newspaper’s top editorial job.

“Baquet, 57, becomes the first African American in the job.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a generation ago,” he said in a New York Times account of the development, “one that approaches the world with wonder and ambition every day.”

Baquet told the newsroom, “I will listen hard, I will be hands on, I will be engaged. I’ll walk the room. That’s the only way I know how to edit.”

The story of Baquet’s ascension, however, competed with the story of Abramson’s ouster, even in the Times. David Carr and Ravi Somaiya reported for the Times, “Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the paper and the chairman of The New York Times Company, told a stunned newsroom that had been quickly assembled that he had made the decision because of ‘an issue with management in the newsroom.’

“Ms. Abramson, 60, had been in the job only since September 2011. But people in the company briefed on the situation described serious tension in her relationship with Mr. Sulzberger, who was concerned about complaints from employees that she was polarizing and mercurial. She had also had clashes with Mr. Baquet.

“In recent weeks, these people said, Mr. Baquet had become angered over a decision by Ms. Abramson to make a job offer to a senior editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, and install her alongside him in a co-managing editor position without consulting him. It escalated the conflict between them and rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger.

“Ms. Abramson had recently engaged a consultant to help her with her management style. Mr. Sulzberger nevertheless made the decision earlier this month to dismiss her, and last Thursday he informed Mr. Baquet of his promotion, according to the people briefed on the situation, who declined to speak for attribution because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“Ms. Abramson did not return messages seeking comment. As part of a settlement agreement between her and the paper, neither side would go into detail about her firing. . . .”