Dean Baquet’s first digital initiative: adding editors

Dean Baquet. (AP Photo/The New York Times, Fred R. Conrad)
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Jeremy Barr

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The New York Times is adding deputy-level editors assigned to increase the volume and quality of its digital product. They'll sit in each of the paper's major editorial departments, executive editor Dean Baquet announced in a staff memo obtained by Capital.

They'll also be involved in training desk staffs in social media and in audience development initiatives on the desks.

The goal is to better leverage Times content across multiple platforms and to "help take the digital report to the next level," Baquet said.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Times Innovation Report, published in full by Buzzfeed in mid-May, which takes the paper to task for lacking a strong digital ground game and not promoting its content across all platforms.

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Here's the announcement in full:

To the Staff,

   I am happy to announce the first of several initiatives designed to increase the energy and imagination of our already strong digital report. We are adding a deputy-level editor to each of the major news desks whose responsibility will be to ensure our coverage shines everywhere we publish.

   Of course the digital report is everyone's responsibility. And all of the major desks have built up impressive teams of people who have lifted our game in everything digital, from breaking news to posting analytic stories earlier in the day to innovations in storytelling. These new editors will give us added firepower and expertise to take the digital report to the next level. So much of a desk's time is consumed by figuring out various aspects of coverage that we need additional editors to watch for news that emerges on social media, and to look for ways to build up, edit and promote our work so that we are strong on the desktop, on mobile, as well as in the paper.

   A good example of what this looks like is Paul Volpe in the Washington Bureau.  On the day when the Supreme Court issues an important ruling, Paul has already arranged a plan that includes setting up a live dashboard, and he has planned, with other desks and reporters, to annotate decisions as they're released. He has already coordinated how we will report what we're learning on social media, and how much of this information will be positioned toward an edit for the paper.

   These editors will also be involved in social media training for the staff. They will play a crucial role in helping each desk build an audience development strategy, and they will coordinate with other departments most closely involved in the digital report both in daily coverage and longer-term innovative projects and storytelling.

   This announcement is an acknowledgement that at The Times, so much of the action takes place on the desks. But it is also the creation of a new leadership path for a generation of Times journalists who have spent years honing their digital crafts.

   We'll now begin adding these editors with more to come  --- International, National, Metro, Sports, Biz Day, Culture, Science, The Magazine and Media.  If you are interested in applying for any of these deputy level positions, please be in touch with the department head.

- Dean