Sunday, October 31, 2010

Huh? Arthur Brisbane, NYT's Public Editor, Uses Anonymous Source To Attack NYT's Use Of Secret Documents.

Since the position was created in 2002, all three previous NYT Public Editors -- Daniel Okrent, Byron Calame and Clark Hoyt -- used their columns to regularly rail against the overuse of anonymous sources in NYT news reporting.

But the NYT's newest Public Editor, Arthur S. Brisbane, may have a harder time taking the high road on this issue -- having allowed an anonymous source to attack the NYT in today's column.

Addressing the controversy created by the NYT's publication of Wikileaks-obtained Iraq War documents last week, Brisbane today used the anonymous source to question the NYT's publication of reports that could aid enemy military strategy. He wrote:

To address the risk to troops and informants, The Times took pains to remove names and other information from the documents it published. Nevertheless, a retired Army general, who asked for anonymity to avoid bringing controversy to the civilian organization he now serves, said the field reports enable Al Qaeda and the Taliban to learn much about the operational practices and mind-set of the coalition’s fighting forces.

“Analysis is not nearly as damaging as reports,” he said, drawing a distinction between the Pentagon Papers and the WikiLeaks material. Field reports like these make it possible “to get into the mind of the enemy. Anytime you do that you gain a tremendous advantage.”

In 2005, NYT executive editor Bill Keller attacked this sort of flimsy use and identification of anonymous sources directly when he declared:

...when anonymity is unavoidable editors must press for adequate disclosure — how the sources know what they know, what motivated them to share the information, and why they are entitled to anonymity. (Note: Not why they ASK for anonymity, but why we feel they are entitled to it.)

Brisbane's lazy use of an anonymous source represented just one weakness in a column riddled with them -- a wimpy, scattershot analysis of a serious controversy that produced widespread and serious attacks on the NYT.

We emailed Okrent, who as the NYT's first Public Editor was a vehement critic of the paper's use of anonymous sources -- "There is nothing more toxic to responsible journalism than an anonymous source," he once wrote -- to see what he thought of today's use of an anonymous source by Brisbane.

"I appreciate the importance of what you're doing," Okrent replied to The NYTPicker via email, "but I've also sworn never to second-guess any of my successors, at least not publicly. I hope you'll understand."

Today's column marked the latest misfire for Brisbane, who has -- in his brief tenure -- already allowed his Public Editor columns to be largely dominated by the NYT's defense and explanation of its decisions, rather than his detailed questioning of them. While his job is to be the "reader's representative," his columns often concern themselves largely with the NYT's side of the story.

Sometimes, as he did today, Brisbane ends his columns with a tidy and unexplained defense of his employer, as though his job were merely to perform as a judge issuing a ruling:

"The Times faced some very tough decisions in this situation and took some risks," Brisbane pronounced at the end of today's column. "I think it did what it had to do."

Why? When? How? Brisbane doesn't bother to say.

Astonishingly, Brisbane virtually ignored what many feel was the most pressing problem in the NYT's handling of the Wikileaks disclosures: last Sunday's page-one takedown of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange by John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya. Frequent NYT critic Glenn Greenwald of Salon labelled that story a Nixonian "smear job" -- one that he said echoed the way the Nixon administration orchestrated attacks on Daniel Ellsberg at the time of the Pentagon Papers.

Brisbane alludes to the Burns-Somaiya story in his lede -- addressing the "stark duality" of reporting on documents dumped by an "increasingly sketchy" source -- but then doesn't return to it until the very end of his column. He then obliquely states:

The Times, in my opinion, did take a reputational risk in doing business with WikiLeaks, though it has inoculated itself somewhat by reporting independently on the organization.

How did the NYT inoculate itself? Greenwald and others have charged that the NYT, in fact, hypocritically undercut itself by presenting the Wikileaks-proferred documents in detail while at the same time attacking their source. It might have been valuable for Brisbane to address those arguments directly, rather than by casually defending the NYT with no backup for his beliefs.

As an aside: we liked the Burns-Somaiya piece. It struck us as a legitimate and insightful inquiry into Assange's methods and behavior. But we don't think the NYT intended to "inoculate" itself with the story; it makes no sense that such a story could have done anything to protect the NYT, had its stories resulted in government action against the paper.

Brisbane also betrayed some lack of awareness of NYT history in his reporting. He wrongly identified A.M. Rosenthal as the NYT's "executive editor" during the Pentagon Papers crisis; Rosenthal was managing editor at the time. The executive editor position wasn't created for another several years.

Brisbane also failed to mention that Bill Kovach, who he quoted questioning the Wikileaks disclosures, was a NYT reporter and editor for 18 years who played a direct role in the NYT's publication of the Pentagon Papers. As Boston bureau chief at the time, Kovach reportedly got the first phone call from reporter Neil Sheehan about the historic papers in Daniel Ellsberg's possession.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

See You In Court! Brooklyn Coffee Shop Owners Slap NYT, Oliver Strand With Libel Lawsuit Over Blog Post.

It isn't often these days that the subject of an unfavorable news story takes on the mighty NYT in court.

But the owners of Gorilla Coffee, a popular Park Slope beanery, have boldly slapped the paper and its coffee correspondent with a libel lawsuit, over a blog post that reported last April on allegations of barista mistreatment by its owners.

The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court and read by The NYTPicker, alleges that the NYT published the Diner's Journal blog post "with actual knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity or with negligence."

The suit names the NYT Company as a defendant, along with Oliver Strand -- the NYT Dining section contributor formerly known as Oliver Schwaner-Albright, who wrote the offending post -- and several former employees of Gorilla Coffee.

The owners of Gorilla Coffee -- Darleen Scherer and Carol McLaughlin -- claim in the suit that they have "suffered shame, emotional distress and embarrassment and were exposed to contempt and ridicule" because of the post.

Here's what happened.

Last April, on the second day of a worker walkout at Gorilla Coffee, Strand weighed in with a blog post reporting in detail on the dispute. In it he repeated charges by Gorilla baristas of a “perpetually malicious, hostile, and demeaning work environment," and their demand for the removal of McLaughlin as co-owner.

In the post, Strand gave the co-owners a chance to defend themselves against the accusations. The two women described Gorilla Coffee to the reporter as a "mostly happy" place, but co-owner Scherer acknowledged that her colleague was "like a drill sergeant" in her training of baristas.

But it was the NYT's publication of the entire email message -- apparently sent to the NYT from seven Gorilla Coffee employees -- that inflamed the co-owners and has prompted the lawsuit against its signers, the reporter and the newspaper.

The employee email described the work environment of Gorilla Coffee as "not only unhealthy, but also, as our actions have clearly shown, unworkable."

The lawsuit alleges that the email was written with "express and implied malice and with design and intent to injure GORlLLA in its good name and reputation."

After the workers quit and the NYT published their allegations, Gorilla Coffee was forced to close for two weeks as the co-owners hired a new staff.

Ironically, most of the NYT's coverage of the dispute -- with the notable exception of Strand's post -- has focused on management's point of view, and seemed favorably disposed towards Scherer and McLaughlin.

Metro reporter Diane Cardwell filed two City Room posts on the re-opening of Gorilla Coffee, and followed up with a metro feature on April 27 that made no apparent effort to interview any of the former employees. Instead, Cardwell quoted the co-owners defending themselves, and local residents who seemed more or less happy to find their favorite coffee joint open again.

“Faults and all,” one resident told Cardwell, “this is a neighborhood institution.”

News of the Gorilla Coffee lawsuit was first reported yesterday afternoon on the Fucked in Park Slope blog. McLaughlin and Scherer have yet to respond to emails seeking comment on the suit. We've also contacted the NYT for comment.

Despite all the Gorilla Coffee press coverage, part of the lawsuit's basis is that neither Scherer or McLaughlin are public figures. The suit states that "plaintiffs are not public figures and are not involved in any public controversy in connection with their wholesale or retail coffee business," adding that "defendants' defamatory statements do not involve a matter of public concern."

Their status as public figures is relevant to the lawsuit, in large part because of a precedent-setting libel case against the NYT by an Alabama law-enforcement official named L.B. Sullivan. That 1960s case, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the NYT, established that in a libel suits brought by a public figure, a plaintiff had to prove malicious intent.

The last libel suit against the NYT was filed in 2008 by Vicki Iseman, a Washington lobbyist whose friendship with Sen. John McCain became the focus of a story alleging a conflict of interest. The NYT settled that suit last year without paying Iseman any damages, or retracting the story.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Double Standard: NYT Punishes Reuters Journalist With Editors' Note -- After Ignoring Ethics Breach Of Multi-Millionaire Princeton Professor.

The NYT apparently has two sets of ethical standards for its contributors -- one that punishes journalists for their transgressions, and another that that ignores the same violations by Princeton professors.

In today's NYT, an Editors' Note calls attention to an ethics violation by an outside contributor to the NYT -- apologizing to readers after a Reuters columnist wrote about businesses where he owned a financial stake. in pieces that appeared in the NYT.

"The Times prohibits staff reporters and editors from owning stock or having any other financial interest in a company that they cover," the Editors' Note stated. "The Times would not have published the articles if editors had known of the conflict."

But you'll find no Editors' Note in the NYT about the identical ethics breach of multi-millionaire Princeton economics professor Uwe E. Reinhardt -- even though he broke the same rule, repeatedly, for more than a year.

And while the Reuters Breakingviews columnist, Neil Collins, has already resigned his post, Reinhardt continues to write a weekly column for the NYT as though nothing happened.

What's the difference? Well, Reinhardt is a respected member of the same Princeton economics department that spawned its own Nobel Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman -- as well as Catherine Rampell, a former Krugman assistant who now edits the Economix blog that publishes Reinhardt's health-care column.

Back in April, The NYTPicker first reported in detail on Reinhardt's breach of NYT rules. Our post noted that the professor gets paid more than $500,000 a year to sit numerous health industry boards, holds more than $5 million in health-industry stock -- all while writing weekly columns on the health-care industry for the NYT.

The NYT had made no disclosure of Reinhardt's holdings to its readers -- even though NYT rules directly demand such disclosure.

Those rules specifically ban both staffers and freelancers from owning stock or having any financial interest "in a company, enterprise or industry that figures or is likely to figure in coverage that he or she provides, edits, packages or supervises regularly."

The NYT ethics rules go on to specifically reference health-care coverage as an area requiring special vigilance against conflict:

"A book editor, for example, may not invest in a publishing house, a health writer in a pharmaceutical company or a Pentagon reporter in a mutual fund specializing in defense stocks," the rules state. "For this purpose an industry is defined broadly; for example, a reporter responsible for any segment of media coverage may not own any media stock. “Stock” should be read to include futures, options, rights, and speculative debt, as well as “sector” mutual funds (those focused on one industry)."

But instead of apologizing for Reinhardt's ethics breach in an Editors' Note -- as the paper did today in relation to the Reuters columnist -- the NYT defended its own multi-millionaire health-care blogger, making this statement:

Professor Reinhardt is a leading expert on the economics of health care, and has provided valuable and independent insights in his blog posts. He has mentioned his service on corporate boards in the blog, but we are reviewing how to more fully describe his activities for readers of Economix.

But in fact, a NYTPicker examination of Reinhardt's 85 blog posts to date found only one brief mention of his financial interests, in the fifth paragraph of a column on health-care fraud where he wrote:

As someone who has served for some time now on the boards of both a for-profit and a not-for-profit hospital system, however, I very much doubt that any hospital board or any hospital executive in the country would even dream of knowingly defrauding the United States government.

In the wake of The NYTPicker's disclosures, the blog now inserts a vague one-sentence disclosure statement-- "[Reinhardt] has some financial interests in the health-care field" -- whenever he writes directly on health-care industry matters.

But neither the NYT nor Reinhardt has never acknowledged any violation of the NYT ethics rules.

"I guess I have to take the rap for this, but I don't see it as an ethical lapse," Reinhardt told Business Insider reporter Lauren Hatch last April.. "It never occurred to me. My board memberships are public knowledge...I invite you to look at the Wall Street Journal [academic columnists] and see their list of boards."

And the NYT has, to date, never disclosed to its readers that nearly 100 blog posts were written without proper disclosure of its multi-millionaire health care blogger's conflicts of interest -- in clear and blatant violation of its own ethics policies.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clueless! Infamous "Scumbag" NYT Crossword Puzzler Blows It Again, Bungling Quote From "Gone With The Wind."

The crossword puzzle on Monday provided an erroneous clue for 5-Across, seeking the answer “O’Hara.” Scarlett O’Hara’s final words in “Gone With the Wind” are “After all, tomorrow is another day” — not “I’ll never be hungry again.” (That is the last comment she makes before the film’s intermission.)

So reads the humiliating correction in today's NYT, revealing Monday puzzler Lynn Lempel as unfamiliar with the one of the most famous last lines in movie history.

But today's amusing fix leaves out a bit of historical context. Before today's mistake, Lempel was best remembered among crossword aficionados as the author of its greatest linguistic stretch -- on the dark April morning in 2006 when Lempel's clue for 43-Down called for a seven-letter word for "scoundrel."

The correct answer: "SCUMBAG."

That answer earned Lempel considerable notoriety, and the first clue to Lempel's lack of knowledge. "I was totally ignorant of its vulgar side," Lempel said at the time. A Slate article on the topic reminded readers that until recently, the word's primary usage was as a slang term for a used condom.

But Lempel didn't quite learn her lesson. On September 28, 2009, Lempel introduced the word "crap" into the NYT crossword puzzle -- okay, it was the answer to "losing roll in a casino," but still.

Yesterday's gaffe prompted some genteel criticism among NYT commenters. Wrote Carla S., of Providence:

If I were on Jeopardy and I had to come up with Scarlett's last words in GWTW, I would have been quite confident in saying "What is 'Tomorrow is another day'?" I don't know whether to doubt myself or our wonderful editor. She utters the never-be-hungry line as the first half of the film ends, but I really don't think she ends the movie with that line.

We understand how you feel. But frankly, Carla, Lynn Lempel doesn't give a damn.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stunner. At 7:00 AM Today, NYT Announced That It Has Officially Run Out Of Ideas.

In a stunning announcement, the NYT has disclosed to its readers that it has officially run out of ideas.

As of this morning at precisely 7:00 a.m., the NYT's "Idea Of The Day" blog -- launched in 2008 and maintained by its Week In Review staff -- told its readers that it was being discontinued.

Under the headline, "This Blog's Final Post," the editors declared that it was going out of business, and gave this reason:

"The blog’s end is a result of limited resources in a medium where any number of worthy projects are possible," the editors wrote, "and where new priorities continually emerge." A BP publicity spokesman couldn't have parsed it any better.

On a five-day-a-week schedule since its launch, the "Idea of the Day" blog culled controversial recent articles and essays from other websites, and gave them prominence and spin for NYT readers.

But perhaps the blog was slipping slightly; one sign of creaky old age came just last Wednesday, when the blog inadvertently posted a five-year-old article about New York architecture in Vanity Fair.

"The blog's primary focus is recent articles," a correction on the blog explained.

The NYT's blogs have gotten increased attention from the company's management in recent months. The addition of Nate Silver's "Five Thirty Eight" blog about political trends, and the move of education reporter Jacques Steinberg to "The Choice" clearly demonstrates the NYT's increased dependence on the blogs for visibility and, eventually, income.

Our candidate for the next cut from the blog roster: "Executive Suite," subtitled "Joe Nocera Talks Business," which was last updated eleven months ago. Dude, you've stopped talking and we've stopped checking!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's True: Spaghetti Tacos "Expert," Prof. Robert Thompson, Has Now Been Interviewed By 78 Different NYT Reporters.

In tomorrow's NYT, reporter Helene Stapinski performs what might appear to be a near-impossible feat of journalism dexterity -- producing a college professor to support her thesis that more Americans now consume spaghetti tacos than ever before.

“Spaghetti tacos has made it possible to eat spaghetti in your car,” Robert J. Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, tells Stapinski. “It’s a very important technological development. You don’t even need a plate.”

But maybe Stapinski's reportage isn't so remarkable, after all. In fact, she's only continuing a longstanding NYT tradition in quoting Thompson -- and has become the 78th NYT reporter to do so, in 150 separate stories over the span of almost two decades. We counted!

Only last month, Thompson was quoted in four television-related NYT stories over a ten-day period: an advertising column by Abby Ellin, a sports story by Pete Thamel, and pieces by two regularly Thompson-dependent television reporters, Richard Sandomir and Bill Carter. (Thamel has quoted Thompson 3 times, and Ellin has quoted him only once before -- while Sandomir has turned to Thompson for expertise on 8 previous occasions. Carter has quoted the professor in a NYT record-shattering 18 separate stories, )

Before the September quote spree, Thompson last appeared in the NYT in July to help explain the "Snooki" phenomenon to fashion critic Cathy Horyn for a Sunday Styles story -- Thompson's Ph.D apparently entitling him to pontificate on her pouf.

“Everything about this show is super-sized — from the over-the-top hair to the over-the-top nature of the comments,” Thompson told Horyn. Nice soundbite, Bob!

To these 78 NYT reporters, Thompson has offered a convenient shortcut past that necessary evil of journalism: the expert quote. Thompson's superior ability to deliver short, pithy comments on a wide spectrum of topics, on deadline -- along with his handy "professor" title -- has made him indispensable to the hordes of NYT reporters who've desperately dialed him for that all-important dollop of hot air.

We don't mean to suggest that Thompson isn't qualified to comment on television and popular culture. He's written and edited several books on television, chaired the Popular Culture Association, and runs the school's Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture. He went to the University of Chicago as a political science major, and got his Ph.D from Northwestern. Impressive credentials.

And Thompson has his own reasoned defense of the NYT's dependence on him.

"I understand the argument against 'rolodex journalism and the accusations that frequent use of the same source can be a sign of laziness on the part of the writer," Thompson told us via email last summer, just after his Snooki interview. "I'd like to think, though, that I get as many calls as I do (from the Times and lots of other publications) because I can provide an integrated level of background and insight that is useful to the story and relatively unique."

Less impressive is the NYT's co-dependent relationship with Thompson, to produce quotes on subjects that don't exactly pertain to his expertise. In turning to Thompson repeatedly for a glib assessment of just about anything, NYT reporters have revealed their willingness to sacrifice true expertise for the expedience of a quick phone call.

Consider these wide-ranging Thompson quotes that have appeared in the NYT with Thompson's name, culled from nearly two decades' worth of clips since he first turned up in a Randall Rothenberg essay on television as art, published almost twenty years ago to the day -- on October 7, 1990:

COMPUTERS. "We really have returned here, in spite of the centralization of technology, to the old-fashioned definition of what folk culture used to be," said Robert J. Thompson, an associate professor of television at Syracuse University. "We have these jokes and stories that will never see the printed page, that exist only as glowing dots of phosphorus. It's not word-of-mouth folk culture but word-of-modem folk culture."
-- "Computer as a Cultural Tool: Chatter Mounts on Every Topic," by William Grimes, December 1, 1992

MEDIA SLUTS. "In my opinion, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding may be the perfect ur-story of all time," said Robert Thompson, an associate professor of television at Syracuse University. "It has every single element one has come to expect in made-for-television movies. And what better protagonists for what is basically a lascivious medium than two young girls whose basic mode of operation is in a pair of tights?"
-- "Networks Rush to Adapt Kerrigan-Harding Story," by Elizabeth Kolbert, February 10, 1994

LONG ISLAND. ''Everybody wouldn't love Raymond if it weren't set on Long Island,'' said Robert Thompson, associate professor of television and film at the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.
-- "Can Sitcom Make It With L.I. Setting?" By Carol Strickland, December 1, 1996

MOBILE STORAGE UNITS. Still, the mobile-storage trend seems to tap into something very American. ''We are a democratic society not defined by caste or birth,'' said Robert Thompson, a professor in the film and television department at Syracuse University, who is also president of the Popular Culture Association, an international academic organization. ''We really are defined by our stuff.''
-- "Nothing to Haul: Storage on Wheels," By Lynn Ermann, December 2, 1999

SUBURBIA. Prof. Robert Thompson, who teaches American popular culture at Syracuse University, said, ''There is a sense among some academics now that the suburbs have developed their own culture and that it's time to move past the cliches that were formed after World War II. ''Colleges are moving to suburban campuses, there is art and employment and crime and museums and both the good and the bad of the cities in the suburbs'' as they have become a much more diverse environment, he said.
-- "Some Perched in Ivory Tower Gain Rosier View of Suburbs," by Iver Peterson, December 5, 1999

PEANUTS. [Charles Schulz'] saga of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus ''is arguably the longest story ever told by one human being,'' Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, observed on the PBS ''NewsHour'' with Jim Lehrer, longer than any epic poem, any Tolstoy novel, any Wagner opera.
-- "Charles M. Schulz, 'Peanuts' Creator, Dies at 77," By Sarah Boxer, February 14, 2000

CICADAS. "Cicadas are the sound of summer, of that year when you were young,'' said Professor Thompson....''They were there when you were young, and then they go away for 17 years, and then they come back, with all those memories. It's the closest thing to a time machine you can get outside of science fiction.''
--"17-Year Cicadas Answer Cue With a Crunch Across the East," By Iver Peterson, May 18, 2004

WINDSURFING. The stereotypes of the sport are unfair - there are lots of plumbers and construction workers windsurfing off Cape Cod and in the lakes of Iowa. (Better put: Who among us doesn't like windsurfing?) "I would have expected it to go over well, the stodgy, overserious guy trying to do something hipper," said Robert J. Thompson, a professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University. "It's not like he was going out having a row with the Harvard crew team."
-- "Who Among Us Does Not Love Windsurfing?" By Kate Zernike, September 5, 2004

WALT DISNEY. "It used to be Disney was exported on its own terms," said Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. "But in the late 20th and early 21st century, America's cultural imperialism was tested. Now, instead of being the ugly Americans, which some foreigners used to find charming, we have to take off our shoes or belch after a meal."
-- "
The Feng Shui Kingdom," By Laura M. Holson, April 25, 2005

FERRARIS. "A Ferrari itself is a gold chain," [Prof. Thompson] said. "There's nothing subtle about it."
-- "They Love Their Ferraris, but Can Do Without the Stares," by Jack Smith, October 26, 2005

LACROSSE. This whole thing has been completely reframed,” said Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. “They’re now underdogs, wrongly accused and exiled from the sport they love. I wouldn’t exactly call them America’s team yet, but that’s probably because it’s lacrosse.”
--"Duke Lacrosse Is Focal Point Again, This Time for the Good," by Pete Thamel, May 20, 2007

FARMVILLE. Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, said he had seen the craze firsthand among his students. “Just like Guitar Hero lets you feel a little like being a rock star — you get to pose and dance a little while you’re doing it — with FarmVille there is a real sense that you’re actually doing something that has a cause and effect,” he said. “The method of dragging food out of the ground and getting something for it is really satisfying.”
To Harvest Squash, Click Here," by Douglas Quenqua, October 28, 2009

Friday, October 1, 2010

Huh? Executive Editor Bill Keller Quotes Anonymous Source In Announcing New NYT Magazine Editor.

"Casual reliance on unnamed sources...corrodes our credibility and, in cases that are rare but not rare enough, may abet journalistic malpractice."

--Bill Keller, NYT Executive Editor, "Talk To The Newsroom," January 30, 2009

Reprinted below is the full text of Keller's email to NYT staff announcing the appointment of Hugo Lindgren as the new editor of the NYT Magazine -- which, for no apparent reason, quotes an anonymous source praising Keller's choice for the job.

To the Staff:

Our search for the next editor of The New York Times Magazine has taken us to some of the masters of the genre and introduced us to some exciting dark horses. We have considered strong candidates within the paper and without, and enjoyed much discussion of what this journalistic treasure should be in its next incarnation. I'm quite delighted to report that the search ends now with Hugo Lindgren - a gifted editor who has helped breathe new life into two magazines and is fully ready to run his own.

It is something of a homecoming. Hugo worked at our magazine, helping invent "The Way We Live Now" franchise. He was lured away by Adam Moss when Adam moved to New York magazine. In March he assumed the executive editor job at Business Week after that troubled book was bought by Bloomberg and began a revival. He has written (extremely well) about business, architecture and pop music.

Hugo, who is 42, grew up in Manhattan, attended Trinity and Duke, and lives here with his wife, the writer Sarah Bernard, and their twin daughters.

"He's very smart, wildly creative and charismatic," says one editor who has worked closely with him. "People like him and want to do their best work for him. He just has a great magazine head."

The search took longer than I anticipated because there were so many credible candidates, but I could not be happier about the outcome.

Hugo will move in October 25.

I want to particularly thank Gerry Marzorati for keeping the magazine on form during our successor search while simultaneously taking up his new role as the newsroom's master entrepreneur and, not incidentally, blogging the U.S. Open. This Sunday's issue, with the cover on Glenn Beck, is a reminder that Gerry will be a hard act to follow. And my gratitude extends to Alex Star and the rest of the magazine staff for their energy, devotion, high standards and patience during this protracted process.

Best, Bill