I could not pass this one up – The New York Times announced this morning that Bill Keller is out as executive editor, to be replaced by Jill Abramson, a managing editor since 2003. Keller will continue to write for the Times.
Why, you ask, did I find this a “must discuss” story? Ms. Abramson will be the first woman to lead the Times in its 160 year history, which pretty much rocks all by itself. But the powers that be didn’t make the change because they have diversity problems (although the paper has been criticized for its lack of diversity given its liberal slant).
If you ask me, they did it because Bill Keller seems to have become the poster boy for the “He-Man-Digital-Haters-Club,” while at the same time his employer is working mightily to maintain its relevance in the digital age. The article he wrote for the NYT Magazine a few weeks ago didn’t help. To imply that the Gutenberg press had a downside in that it “replaced remembering,” and to liken that to “Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter…displacing real rapport and real conversation” is to suggest that he uses these tools to maintain the appearance of keeping current but hasn’t yet figured out how to use them productively. So rather than come clean on his own shortcomings, he’s decided to take a potshot at the rest of us, claiming that digital technology is only good for giving us more time for Farmville and “Real Housewives.” The fact that he said it publicly suggests that he probably didn’t want to keep his job anyway.