The New York Times has promoted veteran journalist Joseph Kahn to succeed Dean Baquet for the top job at one of the world’s largest newsrooms.
Kahn, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Baquet’s deputy for the past five years, had been widely expected to succeed him as executive editor.
He will take over the newsroom at a time when the company boasts the world’s largest online subscriber base for news. But he will face a polarized audience that has become distrustful of the news media, while pushing forth an ambitious plan to add millions more digital subscribers.
Kahn, who is known internally to be more reserved than Baquet, said that securing the public’s trust “in a time of polarization and partisanship” was one of his top priorities.
The 57-year-old will take the reins on June 14, marking the end of an eight-year tenure during which Baquet, the first black editor of the NYT, oversaw coverage of the rise of Donald Trump and a once-in-a-lifetime -century pandemic.
“Dean has fearlessly led The Times through an unbelievably challenging and consequential period,” said AG Sulzberger, publisher and chair of the NYT. Sulzberger said Baquet would remain at the paper to “lead an exciting new venture”, but did not provide specifics.
Kahn studied at Harvard, where he succeeded former CNN president Jeff Zucker as head of the university’s newspaper, The Crimson.
Joe was very aloof and hard to read, he never even looked you in the eye. But he was clearly the smartest guy in the room – in a room full of people who thought they were brilliant – and a fabulous journalist, ”said a former colleague at The Crimson.
Kahn then took Mandarin classes and moved to China where he worked for the Wall Street Journal before joining the NYT in 1998. In the past two decades, Kahn ascended from chief of the NYT’s Beijing bureau to managing editor in 2016. He has also been credited with steering the paper towards a more digital-first editing structure.
During Baquet’s tenure the New York Times won 18 Pulitzer Prizes and soared financially as it added millions of subscribers, helping its stock market capitalization triple to more than $ 7bn. Along the way the group broadened its scope from a newspaper to a diversified media company, selling subscriptions to its cooking and games products and adapting stories into documentary series and films.
The company in February reached 10mn subscribers after the acquisition of The Athletic, a sports news website. It is aiming for 15mn subscribers by 2027.
Kahn said: “I’m deeply humbled to lead a global newsroom of immensely talented journalists who provide original, on-the-ground, indispensable reporting on the most important news of our time. The New York Times will continue to play an essential role in producing and protecting independent journalism. ”