If anyone has insight into what this change might mean, I'd love to hear it.
Jill Abramson, a former investigative reporter and Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, will become the paper’s executive editor, succeeding Bill Keller, who is stepping down to become a full-time writer for the paper.
As managing editor since 2003, Ms. Abramson has been one of Mr. Keller's two top deputies overseeing the entire newsroom. Her appointment was announced on Thursday by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper’s publisher and the chairman of The New York Times Company.
Ms. Abramson said that as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she considered being named editor of The Times to be like "ascending to Valhalla*."
"In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” she said. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth."
Is that Norman Podhoretz I hear chuckling?
... in virtually every instance of a clash between Jewish law and contemporary liberalism, it is the liberal creed that prevails for most American Jews. Which is to say that for them, liberalism has become more than a political outlook. It has for all practical purposes superseded Judaism and become a religion in its own right. And to the dogmas and commandments of this religion they give the kind of steadfast devotion their forefathers gave to the religion of the Hebrew Bible. For many, moving to the right is invested with much the same horror their forefathers felt about conversion to Christianity.
All this applies most fully to Jews who are Jewish only in an ethnic sense. Indeed, many such secular Jews, when asked how they would define "a good Jew," reply that it is equivalent to being a good liberal.
But avowed secularists are not the only Jews who confuse Judaism with liberalism; so do many non-Orthodox Jews who practice this or that traditional observance. It is not for nothing that a cruel wag has described the Reform movement—the largest of the religious denominations within the American Jewish community—as "the Democratic Party with holidays thrown in," and the services in a Reform temple as "the Democratic Party at prayer."
That was Norman in the WSJ September 10, 2009.
Coincidentally[?], that same week Jill Abramson was answering questions from NYT readers:
Q. Why does The Times not objectively give all (or at least two opposite) sides of issues? I am getting really frustrated and don't read The Times as carefully as in the past, because the articles — particularly the headlines — are written from a biased slant. I am a progressive by the way. Has The Times given up the idea that people expect to get facts presented in an objective manner from the news?
— Linda Allen
A. The Times news report is meticulously edited to preserve the divide between news and opinion.
In a world that includes blogging, cable shoutfests and all manner of highly partisan publications, it may seem hard to believe that The Times remains deeply committed to keeping our news report straight. There is a wall between our news and editorial departments. What unites them is a shared standard of excellence. But opinion is the domain of my colleagues on the editorial side of our report. The same wall existed at The Wall Street Journal, where I worked for a decade, and where the publication's conservative editorial bent did not affect news coverage.
It is true that because many spot news stories break early in the day, that the front page of the printed Times often includes stories that go deeply behind the news, explaining the context, giving deep behind-the-scene details, and providing analysis about what our reporters and editors think the news means. On the Web and in print, we also have news columnists who write analytically and with edge. But even in these cases, we strictly apply our standards, which prohibit opinion and advocacy. As in any endeavor, we occasionally fall short of our standards. In some cases, we have published editors' notes when such breaches occur and our public editor looks into reader complaints about this and sometimes addresses the subject. One of my favorite columns was written by our first public editor, Dan Okrent, examining whether the Times was liberal. Here is the link.
We have adopted new measures, especially on the Web, to deal with the reality that the line [between] opinion and analysis can get blurry, especially when we invite the contributions of outsiders who are not conversant with the traditions of journalism. This is why we created the Room For Debate feature on our Web site. It is a forum, run jointly by the news and opinion sides of The Times, for outside, expert voices to share their analysis with Times readers on the most compelling topics of the day. This is the first joint venture between the news and opinion departments of The Times and so far the quality of the contributions have been noteworthy. And we are careful to draw on contribbutors from diverse points of view.
I'm well aware that various conservative commentators regularly and loudly denouce The Times for being "a liberal rag." It just isn't so.
* In Norse mythology, Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll "hall of the slain") is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin.
Chosen by Odin, half of those that die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries... In Valhalla, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well as various legendary Germanic heroes and kings, as they prepare to aid Odin...
Before the hall stands the golden tree Glasir, and the hall's ceiling is thatched with golden shields.Various creatures live around Valhalla, such as the stag Eikbyrnir and the goat Heidrun,
both described as standing atop Valhalla and consuming the foliage of the tree Laeraor....
.... Valhalla has inspired various works of art, publication titles, popular culture references, and has become a term synonymous with a martial (or otherwise) hall of the chosen dead.