NYT politics goes webby

A memo just sent around the New York Times newsroom by executive editor Bill Keller announces a new political editor and greater attention to covering the 2008 campaign on the web. Whole thing follows:

To: newsroom
Subject: From Bill Keller: Politics 2.0

To the Staff:

Hillary Clinton declares her candidacy online. John Edwards wrestles with the public relations implications of bloggers on his campaign staff. John McCain pays bloggers who aren't on his campaign staff. Political journalists, no less in ferment than the politicians themselves, look for new ways and new places to ply their trade. The migration of politics and political journalism to the web isn't quite new, but it sure is moving fast. We're moving too.

For this Presidential election cycle we are organizing our coverage in a new (for us) way: for the first time, a central political desk will supervise coverage for the newspaper and the web. This new desk will include not only newspaper editors, but also people with experience in web production, database reporting and software development. Newspaper and online journalism will get equal emphasis we are well past the day when we can think of ourselves as a newspaper with a Web site on the side for an audience that now expects its political news to arrive in full multimedia, interactive glory.

The goal is to develop a seamless operation that can feed our blog and home page with breaking news all day long, produce innovative and value-added multimedia and database reports -- and then deliver the smartest, freshest possible stories to our newsprint readers the next morning.

At the heart of this effort will be the constant that has always defined The Times' political coverage: stellar reporting by the best correspondents in our business, defining the contours of the wide open election of a lifetime. The campaign is already well underway and our commitment to offering the most complete, imaginative coverage on every platform requires immediate action. Some of the editing, reporting and multimedia jobs are filled, but the political desk will continue to expand and evolve in coming months as we develop more detailed plans and the campaign builds toward the first caucuses and primaries at the start of next year.

Leading the effort at its inception will be Dick Stevenson, newly anointed as political editor. He will continue to be based in Washington and will work closely with the bureau, the national and metro desks, investigations, photos and video, graphics, polling and the Week in Review.

The new political desk will depend on a number of other editors in key roles, including Gerry Mullany in New York. Kate Phillips, the web political editor, will expand her role beyond the very successful Caucus blog to conceive and execute a wide range of web journalism. Lisa Tozzi will bring her legendary multimedia skills and web savvy into everyday contact with reporters and other editors as she coordinates their work with the web newsroom and with the video team. Jim Roberts, Aron Pilhofer and Grady Seale, our new director of software architecture, will work closely with this group and others will be added as the campaign heats up.

Television is also on the radar screen; we hope to be able to say more about this soon.

Stay tuned.


LA Observed reported the makeup of the L.A. Times' 2008 campaign desk back in December.

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