'New York Times' names its new editor

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The Independent US

Bill Keller, the New York Times columnist and a Pulitzer prizewinning former foreign correspondent, was named as the newspaper's editor yesterday, five weeks after his predecessor resigned amid the worst plagiarism scandal in its history.

Mr Keller, 54, who was passed over when Howell Raines was named executive editor in 2001, will formally take over the job at the end of this month. In a statement, he described the Times as a "national treasure", vowing to uphold its standards and preserve its integrity.

By malign coincidence, that reputation suffered another blow yesterday when the paper was obliged to publish a long article correcting a business profile last week that was riddled with errors. Even so, at 2,000 words it was a fraction of the length of the four-page mea culpa the Times ran in May to explain the serial mistakes of Jayson Blair, whose transgressions were described as "a lowpoint in the 152-year history of the newspaper".

The Blair episode laid bare deep resentment among Times staffers at the brusque, autocratic style of Mr Raines. His resignation became virtually inevitable when Rick Bragg, another Times reporter, quit after one of his stories was revealed to be largely the work of an uncredited freelance.

Mr Keller is trusted and respected in the newsroom. His cool and cerebral style marks a return to the traditional culture of the Times, after the shake-up begun by Mr Raines, which won the Times a record seven Pulitzers in 2001 but caused tensions that would ultimately cause his downfall.

Mr Keller has been with the Times since 1984, and worked for a time in Moscow, where in 1989 his coverage won him the Pulitzer. After a spell in South Africa, he returned to New York as foreign editor in 1995. He was managing editor, the paper's No 2 post, between 1997 and 2001 before becoming a columnist when he lost to Mr Raines for the top job.