The latest hot rumor among NYT insiders is that Jesse McKinley, the NYT's San Francisco bureau chief and a former NYT theater reporter, may soon be named to succeed Sam Sifton as the paper's culture editor.
"No decision has been made at this time," said NYT spokeswoman Catherine Mathis last night, responding to an email from The NYTPicker seeking confirmation of the McKinley rumor.
McKinley declined to comment on the possible promotion. "I'm afraid I have to defer to Catherine on this, as she speaks for the company on all personnel matters," he said in an email to The NYTPicker last night.
On August 5, when asked by The NYTPicker for comment on a report in Sharon Waxman's "The Wrap" that Living editor Trish Hall had gotten the Sifton slot, Mathis was far more emphatic in her denial. "We haven't picked a next culture editor," Mathis said at the time. "We've just begun the search."
McKinley began writing for the NYT City section in 1993, and for three years handled the F.Y.I. column that answers readers' local trivia questions. In 1998, the paper assigned him to the theater beat, a post he held for eight years. During that time he developed a reputation for thorough, dogged coverage of the New York City theater scene.
In 2006, the NYT rewarded McKinley with a plum assignment on the national desk, as its full-time bureau chief in San Francisco. Those jobs have often led to editing positions at the paper, and McKinley's experience as a culture reporter lends his candidacy added weight. McKinley's brother, James C. McKinley Jr., is the NYT's Houston bureau chief.
It's important to note that McKinley's name has only surfaced as the latest rumored choice to fill the high-profile post. (We had our doubts about The Wrap's report that Trish Hall had gotten the job, but reported it as one plausible scenario after former NYT culture reporter Waxman floated it on her site.) The final decision rests with executive editor Bill Keller, who surprised the rumor mill earlier this month with his unexpected choice of Sifton to take over the restaurant beat from Frank Bruni.