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KELLER’S NEW GIG: Starting in early March, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller will have a regular column in the Sunday Times Magazine. It is expected to run about 30 times a year.
Keller’s column will appear in the front of the book of a redesigned and relaunched Sunday Magazine under new editor Hugo Lindgren. Keller said it was Lindgren’s idea to get him writing in the magazine.
“I was talking with some of my colleagues, and we were like, ‘How do we make this a destination page in the magazine — something people will feel like they have to read?’” said Lindgren. “And, ‘Who’s a writer that can occupy this space for more than half the time, so it sort of feels like someone is there most of the time?’ And someone said, ‘Bill Keller,’ and I was like, ‘Ha ha ha. He could never do it.’ ”
Lindgren asked Keller, and, to his surprise, his boss didn’t immediately shoot it down. After a few conversations, they came to an agreement. The column will be the front essay that will start The Way We Live Now section. Lindgren said it will run about 1,500 words. The idea is to have Keller write two times every three weeks or so. The writer or two that will write on Keller’s off weeks still needs to be locked down.
“It’s too early to say what I’ll write about, but it won’t be a media column (at least mostly not), and it won’t be an op-ed column (no unfettered opinion),” e-mailed Keller.
This week, Keller has an 8,000-word cover story for the magazine on the paper’s relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. (The story is an excerpt from the opening essay of an e-book the Times is releasing titled “Open Secrets.”) Lindgren said Keller’s column will likely match the tone and the subject of his cover story this week (i.e., Big Buzzy Topics), albeit with less gossip about the inner workings at the Times.
In the last year, Keller has been aggressive in finding new work for his editors, moving more than half a dozen department heads into new jobs at the paper. Keller said his new assignment with the magazine — which will be done, obviously, in conjunction with his daily duties of running the paper — should be “a little rejuvenating.”
And it’s not his first stint at the magazine, either. When Keller was passed up for the executive editor’s job in favor of Howell Raines in 2001, he soon after became a senior writer at the magazine under then editor Adam Moss.
— John Koblin