MEDIA

The New York Times Rebuilds Media Desk After Buyouts

03/05/2015 06:58 am ET | Updated Mar 05, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- The New York Times made a series of internal moves Thursday to strengthen its media desk following several buyouts in late 2014 and the recent death of columnist David Carr.

"Brian Williams. Bill O’Reilly. Sony. The Buzzfeed dress. Our media report is fast-paced and unrelenting, at once both cutting-edge and deeply thoughtful," wrote business editor Dean Murphy and deputy business editor Peter Lattman in a memo to staff. "And it has long been central to The Times’s business and cultural coverage, a signature topic for us that has attracted the best and the brightest."

Both executive editor Dean Baquet and Lattman recently signaled to Times public editor Margaret Sullivan that the media desk, reduced to a third of its peak of 16 editors and reporters, would soon be replenished. On Thursday, Murphy and Lattman announced several moves.

Bill Brink, who served as deputy media editor, becomes media editor, with BizDay weekend editor Connor Ennis serving as his deputy.

Styles reporter John Koblin heads to the television beat, assuming a key industry perch recently vacated by veteran writer Bill Carter, who took a buyout. Koblin, who joined the Times in 2013, had previously covered media for Deadspin, WWD and The New York Observer.

DealBook's Sydney Ember will cover advertising and marketing, filling a void left since columnist Stuart Elliott took a buyout. And Sarah Lyall will add media to "her portfolio of enterprise stories" that has recently included sports and culture, according to the memo.

One role not yet filled is the media columnist post previously held by the seemingly irreplaceable David Carr. Murphy and Lattman didn't mention any timeline for filling the job, but concluded the memo with: "Stay tuned. More to come!"

Full memo below:

Trending Today: Our Media desk on the rise

Brian Williams. Bill O’Reilly. Sony. The Buzzfeed dress. Our media report is fast-paced and unrelenting, at once both cutting-edge and deeply thoughtful. And it has long been central to The Times’s business and cultural coverage, a signature topic for us that has attracted the best and the brightest.

So it is with great excitement that we announce our first round of additions to the media desk, as we rebuild after the buyouts and the death of David Carr:

Bill Brink becomes media editor. Bill has helped lead the media team since the fall of 2011 as a deputy, working closely with Bruce Headlam and Peter Lattman in driving some of the desk’s most important stories, including News Corp. phone hacking, Sony computer hacking and Bloomberg terminal snooping. He also regularly edited David Carr's “Media Equation" column. Reporters love Bill because of his big brain, deft hands and preternatural patience. And though he always appears eerily calm, nobody gets more excited about a breaking story. Prior to his joining the media desk, Bill worked as BizDay’s weekend editor and also spent years in sports covering Super Bowls, World Series and the Olympics. In the very early days of our transition to digital journalism, he led the continuous news department, while also serving a stint as managing editor of our erstwhile sports magazine – Play -- a finalist in 2008 for a National Magazine Award for general excellence.

Connor Ennis moves from BizDay’s weekend editor to become Bill’s deputy. Connor joined BizDay in 2013 and has made great strides in elevating the Monday report so that it is both a distinctive read and visually compelling. In recent months, he has championed our continued experimentation with the “Week Ahead” feature, which is now being sent as a push-alert to subscribers. Connor spent 8 years as a Sports backfielder and copy editor (though clearly brethren in sporting spirit, Connor and Bill did not overlap there). Another of his real loves is books and publishing, so this new assignment falls in the “meant-to-be” category.

John Koblin steps in as our television reporter. John has worked the past year for Styles, where he has covered the fashion industry, writing memorable stories on the uneasy relationship between the fashion world and Mayor Bill de Blasio after its 12-year love affair with Mike Bloomberg; on the restaurants, blow bars and nail salons that were plotting to follow Conde Nast downtown; and his recent piece on the tumultuous events leading to the change of designers at Gucci. Prior to joining The Times, John was well known for his stellar media reporting at Deadspin (where he exposed multiple shenanigans at ESPN), WWD (where he was the first to report that Bill Keller was stepping down as executive editor) and The New York Observer (where he got way deep inside Condé Nast). Stuart Emmrich writes, "John has been a transformational figure in our coverage of fashion, helping us to make it more newsy, more aggressive and less insular. That coverage didn’t always make him a lot of friends in the fashion world. But it did gain him a lot of admirers -- including his colleagues in Styles."

Sydney Ember takes on the advertising and marketing beat. A former analyst at BlackRock’s Financial Markets Advisory group, Sydney has spent the last year writing DealBook's morning newsletter, a daily exercise that has her up at 4:30 a.m. synthesizing financial news pouring in from around the globe. In her spare time, she has written stories for both DealBook and the media desk, including a series of insightful articles on bitcoin. Now Sydney will help us make sense of the profound and complex changes in the advertising business, from the rise of ad tech to the dramatic shift of marketers’ ad dollars to mobile and social. The media desk has had its eye on Sydney since 2010, when as a student at Brown she helped David Carr with his blockbuster story on the Tribune Company.

Sarah Lyall adds media targets to her portfolio of enterprise stories that she has been writing for Sports, Culture and other desks since returning to New York from London in 2013. Sarah is one of the finest and most engaging writers in the building, with an eye for both the unusual and compelling. She will bring her narrative storytelling to a range of media subjects for Sunday Business, Culture and the daily report.

Stay tuned. More to come!

Dean and Peter

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Dean Baquet was one of the authors of the memo. It was from Dean Murphy and Peter Lattman.

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