OLD Media Moves

NY Times biz desk undergoing reorganization

January 30, 2017

Posted by Chris Roush

Dean Murphy
Dean Murphy

The New York Times business news desk is undergoing a reorganization as part of the newspaper’s broader overhaul.

Here is an email from business editor Dean Murphy on Monday to the staff explaining some of the changes so far:

You’ve read the 2020 report. You’ve listened to Dean’s Q/A sessions. You’ve seen our multiple job postings.

So what does this all mean for you and BizDay?

As we embrace new ways of storytelling and presenting the work that we do, business journalism at The Times remains purposeful, poignant and relevant. We investigate, explain, and, ultimately, serve. We break news, make news, and tell stories that are essential and that shape the conversation.

Already, readers look to us to sort through the background noise, to make sense of complex subjects and to be truthful and fair. (There is no better example than our contributions to the Trump coverage in recent days.) Now we are examining the ways we reach and engage our readers, and the priorities we set for our journalism. Business is a vital ecosystem that is forever evolving, and we are evolving with it, bringing our authority and deep expertise with us, and also our creativity and responsiveness to change.

To this end, we’re in the middle of a substantial reorganization that has been in the works for some months now. Not all of the pieces are in place, but there is much to report (so apologies for the length of this note):

  1. We remain excited about and committed to developing our core areas of coverage: finance, tech, media and economics.

Even as we talk about adjusting to a smaller newsroom, we’ve demonstrated this commitment in recent months by adding amazing muscle to our domestic and global staffs with the hiring of Kate Kelly, Jesse Drucker, Sui-Lee Wee, Dai Wakabayashi, Sapna Maheshwari, and Peter Goodman, as well as welcoming back (favorite son and daughter) Charles Duhigg and Jessica Silver-Greenberg. In addition, we are also actively recruiting for an economics editor and seven newly authorized staff positions in tech.

  1. As the broader newsroom becomes more organized around themes, some of our BizDay reporting colleagues and their beats are moving elsewhere:

Stephanie Strom is taking the food industry beat to Sam Sifton’s Food desk. She will continue to write business stories, but will coordinate that coverage with writers and editors working in the same space under Sam’s direction.

Reed Abelson and Katie Thomas are moving to the Health desk led by Celia Dugger. Reed and Katie will continue to pursue business subjects related to health insurance, hospitals, big pharma and the like, under Celia’s direction.

David Segal is taking his Sunday Business features beat to London, where he will continue to report to BizDay but with a focus on the intrigue of European and global business.

Danny Hakim is moving his investigative job to New York from London to participate in BizDay’s coverage of the business dimensions of the Trump administration and more.

  1. On the editing front, we are making changes to elevate and coordinate the report across coverage areas. While subject expertise and beat reporting remain core, we want a structure that encourages and facilitates collaboration. This means having several editors tasked with working with all subject area editors and reporters. These editing roles are about adding value to your work, regardless of where you sit.

Minh Uong is our first visual editor, charged with helping you be more creative with illustrations and other visual storytelling tools (the GIFs that appear with Farhad’s column are the result of his early efforts).  He is working closely with our photo editors and the graphics department to complement their work.

Ashwin Seshagiri, our digital deputy, takes on the added role of overseeing explanatory and service journalism. This type of information and storytelling is intended to connect with readers in a personal way, and should be an essential component of every beat. Ashwin’s goal is to make sure a significant portion of your work focuses on communicating how and/or why — rather than what and/or when — and makes strong engagement with the reader a top priority.

Bill Brink is assuming a new role of encouraging and developing more creative storytelling and presentation in our features and columns. This is central to our effort to post compelling non-breaking news content every day across subject areas. Bill will identify at least one feature daily as a “great read” and work with reporters and their editors to ensure it is presented across platforms with imagination. Another key focus will be working with our columnists to expand their portfolios beyond weekly columns and take full advantage of their digital voices on social media, podcasts, video and the like. (Bill will also continue his media duties until we name a successor.)

Jesse Pesta will guide major enterprise generated across the report — from investigative efforts and projects, to Sunday Business-style cover stories to ambitious short-term undertakings. Jesse will help elevate our enterprise from the point of conception, oversee the process and make it easier for reporters and editors to get resources and prominence for their work. In some cases, Jesse will edit pieces himself; in others he will collaborate with efforts launched by cluster editors and coordinate the timing and allocation of resources; and in still others, he will match enterprise efforts with backfielders best suited to handle. As always, reporters and their direct editors will conceive and produce enterprise. The added benefit is that all of this journalism will undergo high-level brainstorming from the outset, a meeting of the minds and department-wide coordination.

  1. We are also being creative in clustering some of our reporters to better draw upon the collective smarts of the staff:

Jennifer Kingson, who joined us from National, is bringing our consumer and personal finance coverage under one roof. This allows us to identify broad themes, avoid overlap and duplication, and marshall expertise that was scattered across BizDay. Under Jennifer’s leadership, the group is off to a fast start, as readers of our Wells Fargo coverage can attest to. This group includes Ron Lieber, Tara Siegel-Bernard, Stacy Cowley, Mary Williams Walsh and our regular personal finance outside contributors. As topics dictate, other members of finance/DealBook are also jumping into the mix.

Joe Plambeck will take charge of a nimble group of reporters not assigned to finance, tech, media or economics. These reporters will jump quickly and deeply into wide-ranging business topics — areas of immersion driven by news, emerging trends and our passions.The goal of this cluster is to be both agile and thoughtful in covering subjects that don’t fall within existing beats, be fast on news, and strengthen coverage in areas that have urgency. They will work in coordination with reporters and editors from other clusters to provide added punch to big stories, as well as on developments in their own areas of expertise (indicated in parenthesis below), or on mini-beats (for example, Hiroko recently on the business implications of global warming). In addition, this group will be tasked with telling fast-paced business stories that are part of the daily zeitgeist online.This team includes Rachel Abrams (retail), Julie Creswell (finance), David Gelles (corporate governance), Danielle Ivory (public sector), Barry Meier (legal), and Hiroko Tabuchi (consumer).

  1. There are other changes already underway that you probably have noticed too, but are important and worthy of calling out:

—  Phyllis Korkki has joined Phyllis Messinger in the office on Sundays as we have combined our weekend and Sunday Business editing duties. This arrangement means we are treating the entire weekend as, well, the weekend, thereby doing away with the traditional Sunday Business editor role. Both of them are working with Jeff Sommer to assign and edit the standard features that appear in Sunday’s print section and also those that appear throughout the week. Our enterprise, feature and explanatory/service editors will make sure the pipeline of Sunday cover stories is full of rich offerings, while the Phyllises continue to keep the Monday report vibrant and enticing.

Kevin McKenna, again demonstrating his versatility and flexibility, has stepped in as our acting economics editor while we interview a bevy of candidates for that post. As we navigate the emerging field of Trumponomics, Kevin has also picked up the energy, autos and defense reporters — Cliff Krauss, Diane Cardwell, Bill Vlasic and Chris Drew — as those sectors become particularly intertwined with the trade and economic policies of the new administration.

Aimee Harris and Kevin Granville, our news editors who work mornings and nights, respectively, have assumed Kevin’s day-editor responsibilities.

  1. Finally, the reimagining of our report is ongoing. Right now:

— we have an ambitious expansion of our tech team underway;

— we are interviewing candidates for our Hollywood reporting opening, and for the leader of our economics coverage;

—  we are launching the search for a new media editor;

—  and we have multiple beat reporters contributing to coverage of the Trump administration as we determine with the broader newsroom how that coverage will be directed and organized going forward.

Thanks to all of you for continuing to produce stellar business journalism even as the world around you is changing, and the demands on all of us are greater.  I am on the road this week, but available by email. When I return, we will schedule time to gather as a group.

— Dean


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