- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times named a pair of new managing editors yesterday morning, replacing one of the executives forced to resign over the Jayson Blair scandal.

Jill Abramson, the Times’ Washington bureau chief, and John Geddes, the paper’s deputy managing editor, were named to replace Gerald Boyd, Executive Editor Bill Keller announced. It marked the first time in the Times’ 152-year history that it will have two managing editors.

“In Jill and John, I will have two sidekicks who are superb journalists, genuine leaders, straight shooters, deeply committed to this newspaper and all it stands for,” Mr. Keller said.

Miss Abramson, who came to the Times in 1997 after nearly a decade at the Wall Street Journal, was named the Times’ Washington bureau chief in 2000, the first woman to hold the job. In her new position, she will focus on the Times’ newsgathering.

She also has been a Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton and is the co-author of “Strange Justice,” a book recounting the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and “Where They Are Now: The Story of the Women of Harvard Law, 1974.” She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1976.

Mr. Geddes was a reporter for the Times in Germany, then joined Dow Jones in 1980. He returned to the Times in 1994 and became deputy managing editor for operations in 1997. In his new job, Geddes will be responsible for news operations.

No replacement was named for Miss Abramson; Mr. Geddes will not be replaced because his new job is an expansion of his current responsibilities, the Times said.

The announcement came the day after the newspaper moved to restore its image in the wake of the Blair case by pledging a review of its journalistic policies and creating its first ombudsman position. The creation of this post and two additional masthead-level jobs, announced by Mr. Keller on Wednesday, followed an 11-week review by a 28-member panel.

Its report, which included a separate section on Blair, “closes a chapter” at the paper, said Allan M. Siegal, the Times’ assistant managing editor and committee head.

“We think it’s our final word,” he said Wednesday in an interview.

Mr. Blair resigned from the paper May 1 after filing some three dozen phony or plagiarized stories from October to April.

The scandal exposed a discontented staff that had lost confidence in newsroom leadership, leading to the June resignations of Mr. Boyd and Executive Editor Howell Raines. Wednesday was Mr. Keller’s first day as executive editor.

Mr. Keller announced that the Times would adopt some of the Siegal committee’s recommendations immediately and would pursue several others.

“The shock to our system — to its morale and reputation — has created an important opportunity. Most important, it has created a consensus for change,” Mr. Keller said in a five-page memo to the staff.

The ombudsman, to be known at the Times as “public editor,” will examine coverage, review reader complaints and write a periodic column in the paper, Mr. Keller said.

A standards editor and an editor to oversee hiring and career development will also be named, he said.

The three new jobs should be “refined and filled within the coming weeks,” he said.

In its report, the committee acknowledged that concerns over diversity may have helped Mr. Blair, who is black, advance at the Times, but it emphasized that the paper should not turn away from its commitment to diversity.

The report found that the “real culprits” in the Blair scandal were “deeply flawed structures, attitudes and processes.” In particular, the committee cited a “failure to communicate” among editors and said that “in The New York Times newsroom, silos had replaced sharing.”

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