Dean Baquet Is New York Times First Black Executive Editor

News & Views | Bené Viera | 05/15/2014 | 12:31 PM EDT

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist becomes the paper's first Black executive editor in its 163-year history

It’s hard to believe that in 2014, the 21st century, there’s still a first Black anything. But it happens. Frequently.

On Wednesday, The New York Times appointed Dean Baquet as its first Black executive editor in the paper’s 163-year history.

Baquet was hired to replace Jill Abramson, who was the first woman to hold the position. Abramson was reportedly fired for addressing the pay wage gap between her salary and her predecessor's.

It was a monumental moment for Baquet and the New York City paper. The 57-year-old has been the NYT’s managing editor since 2012.

“It’s humbling to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that’s actually a lot better than it was a generation ago,” Baquet said.

Baquet also worked at the Times from 1995 to 2000 as the national editor. He was formerly the editor of the Los Angeles Times, but was fired for refusing to make staff cuts ordered by its publisher.

The Pulitzer Prize winner takes over at a time the paper is struggling to navigate the digitized world of media.

“The trick of running The New York Times is that you have to keep in mind that it is a very powerful print newspaper with a very appreciative audience,” Mr. Baquet said in an interview after the announcement. “You have to protect that while you go out there and get more readers through other means.”

(Photo: courtesy Dean Baquet)

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