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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Editor Steps In At Troubled Times

NEW YORK -- Bill Keller, a columnist for The New York Times who previously served as its managing editor and foreign editor and as a foreign correspondent, has been chosen as its executive editor.

Keller's appointment to the highest-ranking position in the newsroom, effective July 30, was announced Monday by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times and chairman of The New York Times Co.

Keller, 54, succeeds Joseph Lelyveld, who retired as executive editor in September 2001 but who agreed to step back into that role temporarily beginning on June 5. Lelyveld returned on the day that Howell Raines, 60, stepped down after 21 months in the position.

Raines' departure, along with that of the paper's managing editor, Gerald Boyd, capped five tumultuous weeks at The Times. After the disclosure of extensive journalistic fraud and plagiarism by a reporter, Jayson Blair, other reporters and editors came forward to describe to Sulzberger and to other publications their discontent with Raines' management style.

Alluding to Raines' repeated admonitions to staff members to raise their "competitive metabolism," Keller, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for his coverage of the Soviet Union, said Monday that journalism is not "an endless combat mission."

Keller announced no immediate successor to Boyd as managing editor. Keller said, "This news organization is a national treasure. I will do everything in my power to uphold its high standards, preserve its integrity and build on its achievements."

Keller joined the newspaper as a correspondent in its Washington bureau in 1984, and was a correspondent in Moscow from 1986 to 1991. During those last two years, he was the Moscow bureau chief. He then worked as bureau chief in South Africa from 1992 to 1995, the year he was appointed foreign editor.

In winning the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in 1989 -- a prize he shared with reporters from The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer -- Keller was honored for his "resourceful and detailed coverage of events in the U.S.S.R.," which included his reporting on an earthquake in Armenia that killed tens of thousands.

Philip Taubman, Keller's predecessor as Moscow bureau chief, later wrote that his articles were "some of the finest reportage The Times has ever published." He told how Keller had turned over the bookkeeping "to Oleg, the bureau's Russian driver," in part so he could have more time for reporting and writing but also because "while Oleg hated to change the oil, he had a knack for finances."