Arthur S. Brisbane

The New York Times announced today that its new public editor will for the first time be a woman. Margaret Sullivan, the editor of the Buffalo News, will take over for Arthur S. Brisbane. Part of the problem with the way the job is conceived can be seen in Sullivan’s statement to the press, in which she says that she sees the position as offering, “a chance to listen to readers, to respond, to learn and to write, always thoughtfully and also in real time.” The trouble here is with the obsessive focus on readers and their opinions.

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[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] The New York Times is the best newspaper we have. It is full of brilliant writers and editors, and every day it provides a wealth of fascinating stories. It also makes its share of errors and mistakes. As the most important news organization in America, it certainly provides plenty of opportunity for commentary and debate. Into this ripe field, however, has stepped another dreary "public editor." The Times began this position a few years ago, and offered prime real estate--a big chunk of the Sunday op-ed page--to its occupant.

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