ABRAMSON’S LINEUP: New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson is quickly assembling her team and on Wednesday announced what seemed to be a foregone conclusion: Joe Kahn, deputy foreign editor since 2008, will replace Susan Chira as the paper’s new foreign editor. This follows the announcement that national editor Rick Berke will oversee the features departments, which leaves one lingering vacancy: Who’s taking over national?


This story first appeared in the September 8, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Several Times sources told WWD that restaurant critic Sam Sifton is a leading candidate to become the head of the national desk. Sifton has been the restaurant critic for just two years and has had no experience as a national reporter or editor. (At the Times, he has run the culture desk and worked for the dining section; he was previously a writer and editor for Talk and The New York Press.) But one Times source said that Sifton “would make the leap in a minute — he has much greater career ambitions than to be restaurant critic.”


If Sifton does get the job, it would be yet another surprising decision by Abramson. David Leonhardt was recently appointed Washington bureau chief even though he was on no one’s short list for the job.


“I’ll pass on that one,” said Abramson, when asked about Sifton. (He did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.)


When asked if she was inclined to make further surprise choices beyond Leonhardt, she played that notion down.


“I’m looking for the absolute strongest journalists for these positions, and looking for what will be best for The New York Times,” said Abramson. “I don’t care about the element of surprise. Doing my job is not a public performance. ‘Oooooh, I want the news to be received with surprise!’ That is not something I pay attention to.”


One thing is clear: The Times is beginning to define a new generation of leaders at the paper. In addition to Leonhardt and Kahn, Carolyn Ryan has been in the job of metro editor for just eight months and has impressed the masthead with her performance. Likewise, it’s said that deputy national editor Adam Bryant is on the verge of getting a high-profile editing job at the paper as well.

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