‘Times’ to toast outgoing digital chief Martin Nisenholtz

Martin Nisehholtz. ()
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Martin Nisenholtz, the longtime New York Times digital chief who pioneered its migration to the web in the mid-'90s, has just a few weeks left before his recently-announced retirement kicks in at year's end.

So tonight may be one of his very last chances to party with the paper of record.

Times staffers will gather from 6-9 at O'Lunney's, an Irish pub on West 45th Street, to fête the outgoing 56-year-old senior vice president of digital operations. (As was the case with the paper's Aug 22. toast to Bill Keller marking the end of his eight-year executive editoriship, it will be a cash-bar affair.)

News of Nisenholtz's imminent departure from the Times rippled through media industry circles when it broke a month ago today. As noted in the paper's own report, "Nisenholtz was involved in virtually every major digital initiative at the Times, from the creation of the Web site to multiplatform projects involving mobile phones and tablets."

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He attended his final digital "all-hands" meeting yesterday in the Times Center auditorium, where he appeared with Times Company C.E.O. Janet Robinson, nytimes.com general manager Denise Warren and other executives. There, before a large cross-section of the Times' more than 300 digital employees, Nisenholtz gave a teary-eyed farewell address, during which he choked up several times and joked that he was "the John Boehner" of the paper. He received a standing ovation.

At a UBS media conference Monday where many of her remarks focused on the Times' digital strategy and the paid online model that the paper instituted back in March, Robinson was asked about the succession plan for Nisenholtz's position.

"We are very sorry to see Martin go, but he has certainly earned a wonderful retirement and made outstanding cotributions to The New York Times Company and to the digital arena writ large," she said.

"I think Martin would be the first to agree that one of the most important parts of his legacy is that he's built an outstanding team of professionals that have moved our progress forwad," Robinson continued. "They are very, very well versed in regard to that they're doing now and what they need to do to advance the digital operations of The New York Times Company. From a standpoint of the overall structure, we have people in place running our websites, advertising and circulation efforts that really are very capable of handling the operations at hand."