NYT business reporter Alex Berenson has told The NYTPicker that he plans to leave the NYT "quite soon," but says a website report that he accepted the NYT's buyout offer was wrong.
"I am working on a fairly solid story that I expect will run in January," Berenson told The NYTPicker. "After that I will be leaving."
Berenson has been a NYT reporter for a decade, mostly on the business desk except for a five-month tour of duty in Iraq during 2003 and 2004. That experience led Berenson (who now covers the pharmaceutical industry) into a second career, writing spy novels around a fictional CIA agent/hero named John Wells.
"My choice to leave has nothing to do with any concerns about the future of the Times, which I think is bright," Berenson said. "But since 2006, I have had three novels published, with a fourth on the way....I am under contract for two more, which will be released in 2011 and 2012." His first novel, "The Faithful Spy," won an Edgar Award for best mystery novel.
"Basically," Berenson said, "my night job turned into my day job when I wasn't looking." A NYT source said Berenson had been working for the paper at half-pay in 2009 while pursuing his fiction career.