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NYTimes Public Editor Margaret Sullivan Hired by Jeff Bezos-Owned Washington Post

IMG_0004The one person at the NYTimes who publicly criticized David Streitfeld for his vendetta against the retailer will soon be leaving that publication for its DC-based competitor.

The NYTimes and the Washington Post reported late last month that Margaret Sullivan will be joining the latter newspaper as a media editor:

Ms. Sullivan assumed her role at The Times in 2012, and her tenure was scheduled to end in August. In a memo to the staff, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., The Times’s publisher, praised Ms. Sullivan, saying she had “ushered the position into a new age.”

He said that she would remain at the paper for “a number of weeks” and that the search for a successor was underway. “We will be in a position to name Margaret’s successor very soon,” he wrote.

As the fifth public editor appointed by The Times, Ms. Sullivan wrote about journalistic issues and ethics in regard to Times coverage, addressing a range of subjects including fairness and stereotyping.

She plans to write at least once a week, and could contribute more depending on current events. One thing we know is that Sullivan will not be the WaPo’s gadfly. She told Washingtonian that she has no plans to report on her employer–“if something came up that directly involved the Post I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it, but I wouldn’t seek it out either,” she says. But, she says, “This is not in any way a public editor job. I just want to make that clear!”

Sullivan publicly criticized Streitfeld in 2014 when he favored the publishers' side in the Amazon/Hachette contract dispute and then took on the role of media spokesperson for Authors United. And then in 2015 she questioned the heavy use of anecdotes and anonymous sources in Streitfeld’s infamous Amazon takedown piece.

And now she’s leaving the newspaper.

Do you think her replacement will be as outspoken, or will the NYTimes use this opportunity to replace Sullivan with a writer who won’t bite the hands that feeds it?

image by danxoneil

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fjtorres March 17, 2016 um 4:35 pm

They’ll probably give the job to Streitfeld.

Nate Hoffelder March 17, 2016 um 4:35 pm


Mackay Bell March 19, 2016 um 1:35 am

There. That was the joke I was looking for.

fjtorres March 20, 2016 um 3:24 pm

The joke is what the NYT has become.

Will Entrekin March 18, 2016 um 8:53 am

Given how polarized everything seems to evolve, this sort of makes sense. Our society likes to believe there’s two sides to every story, each of which is equal, so now we’ll have the corporate-biased New York Times stories versus the Washington Post as owned by Amazon, which should just enliven debate, even if it exacerbates the subtle hostilities between the two.

That said, I do note that previously, Sullivan had only been able to slap Streitfeld’s wrists. None of her corrections or comments ever really carried the weight or got the commentary the original stories had. Maybe we’ll see better, bigger stories more obviously in opposition to the corporate agenda, even if all of them have to carry the "The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon" disclaimer.

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