Kevin Convey, ousted 'News' editor, in newsroom farewell; he was 'blindsided,' even though his successor was picked in October
A day after the Daily News made the surprise announcement that it was hiring Colin Myler, late of Rupert Murdoch's infamous News of the World, to replace Kevin Convey as editor in chief, Convey convened his staff at 4 p.m. this afternoon under the paper's venerable four-sided vintage clock in the center of the newsroom to bid farewell.
In a brief address lasting no more than two minutes, an audio recording of which was obtained by Capital, Convey, wearing a jacket and tie and holding a piece of paper with his notes, praised the journalists who've been working under him for the past year and a half.
"I didn't think it was the right thing to leave without saying a few final words," he said. "Basically just one final word: I really appreciate everything you did for me. I thank you for the opportunity to work alongside the best staff I've ever worked with anywhere. You guys are phenomenal. Thanks for all the great stuff we've worked on together, and for all the great memories."
There were about a hundred people present, including Convey's erstwhile no. 2, Arthur Browne, as well as a number of other high-ranking editors.
"To the degree we've had any success is because of you," said Convey. "Every night you guys made me feel like George Patton. You never let me down. Whatever successes I may have had, I'm aware they came because of your hard work. And the failures were entirely mine. I'll never forget you, and I'll always be pulling for the Daily News."
The speech concluded to a round of applause. Afterward, Convey went back to his desk and started working on something at his computer, according to a person who was present.
"It didn't look like there was a receiving line to greet him afterwards," our source said, adding, "It was a nice speech."
Today is Convey's last official day at the News, where he took over as editor-in-chief last August following a long run at the Boston Herald. Through a News spokesperson, he declined an interview request.
But sources said the announcement that Convey would soon be replaced by Myler, once excutive editor of rival tabloid the New York Post, must have "blindsided" him.
"I'm sure he was worried about his job," said a person who knows Convey, "but he probably thought the threat came from Arthur Browne," Convey's recently promoted deputy and a longtime veteran of the paper.
The rollout of Convey's dismissal didn't begin until the end of December, even though the paper had been in talks with Myler since the fall, said a person familiar with the situation. The Myler negotiations were kept tightly under wraps, and even top newsroom brass wouldn't have been aware of them until at least the first of the year. Convey is, according to sources, on a contract that expires this summer at the earliest.
But newsroom gossip (and some popular opinion) held that Convey never quite got a feel for the place, a sentiment staffers echoed yesterday in interviews with Capital.
In an interview with The Guardian, Myler confirmed that Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman first made him a job offer back in October.
"He made the decision very easy for me," Myler told The Guardian. "It is a great opportunity for me, it is a great paper with a great history and family reasons aside, it was easy."
Myler also addressed the old-fashioned newspaper war that his hiring would surely reignite between the News and his former employer, the Post. The latter paper is owned by the same company that shuttered News of the World after it was rocked by last summer's phone-hacking scandal. It's no secret that Myler was unhappy with the decision to close down the top-selling British tabloid, and he's since been at odds with some within the News Corp. orbit.
"It's going to be fun," he told The Guardian. "There is a touch of irony about it."
Myler was expected to arrive in New York sometime today. He starts at the paper on Jan. 10, though no formal newsroom introduction has yet been scheduled, the spokesperson said.
CORRECTION: Because of a misunderstanding with a source, an earlier version of this article reported that Capital had listened to streaming audio of Convey's farewell speech. We have since learned we were listening to an audio recording transmitted to us immediately after the speech was concluded.