Arthur Brisbane, the fourth public editor of the New York Times, made his (always his, so far) debut on Sunday with this column:
Why I Would Do This
I wanted the job for several reasons. First is that The Times matters. No other American news organization has the resources and the ambition to reach as deeply and as broadly on as many subjects as The Times does. The public editor deals with problems in the aftermath. It’s forensic, a kind of journalistic “CSI.”
Second, the next few years will be an inflection point for The Times. Newspaper-based organizations — ones like The Times that have created Web operations and other news products — will either weather the storm of transformation or tip into the deep. It will be a fateful time.
Finally, any journalist would find it hard to say no to the chance to practice the trade here.
Brisbane (bio here) practices the trade in the footsteps of the following:
Give Okrent his due: It was no mean feat to establish the public editor position, which he had to do as its first practitioner. That said, Okrent was at times a bit of a showboat (just ask Maureen Dowd).
Calame in the end barely lived up to the second syllable of his surname. He seemed an indifferent public editor who rarely got his hands dirty, although his Geraldo Rivera coverage was . . . interesting.
3) Clark Hoyt
For the hardworking staff’s hard-earned money, Hoyt has been the best of the lot: serious, curious, and judicious.
Meanwhile, Brisbane is already drawing brickbats.
Let the wild rumpus begin.