NEW YORK — Dean Baquet, the editor-in-chief of the New York Times, is expected to step down in June, according to the publication.
The NYT’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, announced on April 19th that Baquet will be succeeded in the role by current managing editor Joseph F. Kahn, the paper's second-in-command—a move that had been rumored as early as last March.
Baquet became the NYT’s first Black head when he was promoted to the role in 2014, following a stint as managing editor beginning in 2011. He had previously worked at the paper as an investigative reporter in the 1990s, eventually rising to the position of national editor.
The New Orleans native, a Black Catholic graduate of the Josephites’ St. Augustine High School, has led the 170-year-old paper throughout some of its most challenging years in recent memory—including the entirety of the presidency of Donald Trump and the transition of the paper more fully into the digital age.
He has also faced criticism during his tenure for allegedly kowtowing to political pressures from both sides of the aisle, and for missteps among his staff ranging from murky reporting to workplace misconduct.
The perceived “both sides-ism” of the publication under his reign perhaps reached its zenith with the publishing in June 2020 of an op-ed from the right-wing GOP senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, which called for a military response to public unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
(Under duress, the NYT published a defense of their decision the next day.)
However the criticism fall, Baquet’s resume in the newsroom appears to speak for itself, including 20 Pulitzer Prizes won by the NYT since 2014—in addition to the one Baquet won for his own reporting many moons before.
He was also honored a year ago with the 2020 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University, which he accepted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last November he received the National Press Foundation's Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award, which he will receive at a banquet on May 4th in Washington, DC. On June 8th, he will receive the Fred Dressler Leadership Award from the Newhouse School in New York City.
Last summer, Banquet was reported to be living in Los Angeles, running the NYT from afar, and was said to be under consideration for the top editor's job at the Los Angeles Times—a position he held once before in 2005, though only for a year.
The announcement this month from the NYT has thrown cold water on those speculations, with the paper confirming that Baquet will in fact be sticking around.
Specifics on his forthcoming plans have not been revealed, but Sulzberger said that he “will remain at The Times to lead an exciting new venture”.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).