Baquet Joins ‘New York Times’ as D.C. Bureau Chief

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By: Joe Strupp

Former Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet, who was fired from the paper last fall after a dispute with owners about newsroom cutbacks, has been named Washington bureau chief of the New York Times effective March 5, the paper revealed today.

Baquet rejoins the New York paper, where he spent nearly a decade, after seven years at the Los Angeles Times, including the last two years as editor. Philip Taubman, current Washington bureau chief, will become associate editor.

E&P reported on Jan. 17 that Times Executive Editor Bill Keller was interested in Baquet’s returning to the paper, and that rumors included his taking over the D.C. bureau. At the time, Keller said Baquet’s return to New York would depend, at least in part, on the future of the Los Angeles Times, (with whose possible sale Baquet may have received an invitation to return).

“We have put things on hold until we see what happens with the auction at the [Los Angeles] Times,” Keller said about talks with Baquet at the time. “There is at least a large part of Dean that would like to finish what he started in L.A.”

In a New York Times article today, Baquet admits that he had spoken with Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, the two Los Angeles billionaires who have bid for Tribune. The article says Baquet characterized the conversations as “casual,” but that he had considered returning to the L.A. Times if the two took over the paper.

Today, Keller praised Baquet, calling the paper’s Washington bureau one of the paper’s “crown jewels.” He called the bureau “as rich in talent and accomplishment as any time in its storied history. Over the past year, Phil presided over a period of ambitious rebuilding and still more ambitious journalism. He leaves behind a great editing team. And he leaves behind a bureau that has taken to heart a mandate for incisive, original and hard-hitting coverage.”

In the Times article, Baquet was quoted as saying that, in discussing the job with his new employers at the Times, there was no mention of his having defied Tribune management, even as there is a possibility that the Times may have to make cuts in the near future.

“I got defiant when I thought it was mindless,” Baquet was quoted as saying about the L.A. Times cuts. “I understand the reality of newspapers, but they shouldn?t eat themselves alive.”

Asked about whether he worried about Baquet’s history with the cuts, Keller was quoted as saying that standing up to Tribune “only adds to his luster.”

Baquet, 50, first joined The New York Times in 1990 as a metropolitan reporter. In 1995, he was promoted to national editor.

Baquet was named managing editor of the Los Angeles Times in 2000. He became editor of that newspaper in 2005.

Before joining The New York Times the first time, he reported for The Chicago Tribune from 1984 to 1990, and before that for The Times Picayune, New Orleans, La., for nearly seven years.

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Related E&P Stories:

Keller Memo on Baquet Cites D.C. Bureau’s “Toxic Storms” in Recent Past

Keller Wants Baquet to Return to ‘New York Times’ (Jan. 17th)

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