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N.Y. Times names Bill Keller as editor

Bill Keller is the new executive editor of the New York Times.
Bill Keller is the new executive editor of the New York Times.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The New York Times Monday named Bill Keller as its new executive editor, replacing Howell Raines, who was forced to resign last month in the wake of the plagiarism scandal involving reporter Jayson Blair.

Keller, 54, is an Op-Ed page columnist and senior writer for The New York Times magazine who had previously been considered for the top job.

Keller, a former managing editor and foreign editor at the newspaper who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for his coverage of the Soviet Union, assumes the responsibilities held by interim executive editor Joseph Lelyveld, 66, who came out of retirement to temporarily replace Raines.

In the coming weeks Keller plans to "evaluate the organization of the newsroom's top management and name additional members of the team that will lead the Times," the newspaper's announcement said. A key position still unfilled is that of managing editor. Gerald Boyd stepped down from that job and left the paper when Raines resigned.

"Bill is a talented journalist, an accomplished manager and a trusted leader," said publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. "I am grateful that Bill has accepted this new challenge and am confident that in the years to come, he will help us build on The Time's unparalleled tradition of journalistic excellence."

Keller said of his new position that he is "honored and exhilarated by the opportunity to lead the finest assembly of journalists in the world."

"This news organization is a national treasure," said Keller. "I will do everything in my power to uphold its high standards, preserve its integrity and build on its achievements."

'A land mine named Jayson Blair'

Breaking his public silence for the first time since his June 5 resignation, Raines said in an interview Friday on the PBS Charlie Rose show that he was asked to leave the paper by Sulzberger due to the newsroom tumult created by the Blair episode as well as his own hard-charging leadership style.

"I stepped on a land mine named Jayson Blair," he said. "I became a political liability."

Keller became Op-Ed columnist and senior writer for the Times Sunday magazine in 2001 after being passed over for the newspaper's top editorial job in favor of Raines, who had been the chief editor for the editorial page until then.

Keller served as managing editor from 1997 to 2001 after having been the newspaper's foreign editor from 1995 to 1997. He was the chief of The Times bureau in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1992 until 1995. Before that, he had been a Times correspondent in Moscow from 1986 to 1991, the last three years as the newspaper's bureau chief. He started with the Times as a Washington correspondent in 1984.

Before coming to the Times, Keller had been a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald, Congressional Quarterly and the Portland Oregonian.

Blair, 27, resigned May 1 after a Texas newspaper questioned whether he had plagiarized its story about the family of a soldier missing in Iraq.

A subsequent investigation by the newspaper uncovered several other instances over a period of years in which Blair produced stories based on faked on-scene reporting, including the D.C. snipers' case and a story on the family of Iraq War POW Jessica Lynch.

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