New York Times international editor Phil Pan sent out the following to the staff:
For the past six years, through political upheaval and war, the pandemic and economic havoc, Alison Mitchell has helped guide the news report through a time of dizzying change for the world and for journalism itself. Now she will be bringing her vast experience, skill and passion for storytelling to the International desk as international news director.
Needless to say, it is a major windfall for us. During her 30 years at The New York Times, Alison has come pretty close to doing it all.
As a reporter, she covered Brooklyn and Queens, the first World Trade Center bombing, City Hall, the White House, Congress, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton and two presidential campaigns.
Her editing career has been equally varied. As education editor, she quickly discovered a vast student loan scandal. She was the weekend editor for five years. She was national editor when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson and during the national reckoning that followed. It was also a time of wrenching mass shootings across the country that national reporters covered around the clock with grace and sensitivity.
Most recently, as assistant managing editor overseeing news coverage, she has played an indispensable role for all of us across the newsroom, helping to sharpen and elevate the entire report every day. Now Alison is taking her talents and insights to the International desk to help lead our daily news report.
“Alison’s news judgment and her unrelenting focus makes our report better and more distinctive every day,” executive editor Joe Kahn says. “She has been a critical partner to me and the rest of the newsroom leadership, and I’m thrilled that she’ll be applying her skills in a hands-on way to our most important global stories.”
Working closely with us, as well as with Adrienne Carter in Seoul and Jim Yardley in London, Alison will help the desk deliver the kind of fast, sharp, deep coverage that makes The Times what it is. In essence, she will be doing for International what she did for the overall news report each day: helping identify, drive and shape the biggest stories of the day.
Alison is certainly no stranger to international news. She was the Moscow bureau chief for Newsday during the last days of the Soviet Union, and she once wanted to be a foreign correspondent for The Times as well. But aside from a one-month stint in Somalia, she largely dove into domestic coverage instead, becoming a White House and political correspondent, though she kept her hand in covering foreign policy from the White House. She charted Clinton’s re-election and his strategy of seeking a third way between Republicans and his party’s left flank. She spent months on John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” and took note when he sometimes talked himself into corners. In Congress, she anchored coverage of the Clinton impeachment and the debate over whether to authorize the use of force for the Iraq war.
But her love of international news never left her. A simple glance at any day’s front page makes that clear, and so Alison says she is thrilled to finally join the International desk and live vicariously through the tremendous work of correspondents who go out tirelessly and thoughtfully to cover the world each day.
We are extremely lucky to have her.