PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Times' timing apt in Keller appointment

New York: Upon taking over the job he failed to get two years ago, Bill Keller, the new executive editor of The New York Times, explained in no uncertain terms how his administration would differ from that of his predecessor.

New York: Upon taking over the job he failed to get two years ago, Bill Keller, the new executive editor of The New York Times, explained in no uncertain terms how his administration would differ from that of his predecessor.

In a host of interviews and in a newsroom speech, Keller, most recently a Times' op-ed columnist, laid out a wide-ranging management philosophy, touching on everything from his approach to covering breaking news to his desire to improve his reporters ' lives by allowing them more personal time. He even defended his staff against criticisms made by former executive editor Howell Raines on The Charlie Rose Show just days before. The media flurry surrounding his appointment had the obvious effect of articulating just where Keller diverges from Raines, the divisive figure who resigned in the wake of the infamous Jayson Blair episode. But there were side benefits as well. Coming on the heels of Raines' first in-depth interview, in which he claimed he was forced out of the newspaper, and on the same day The Times' business page was forced to run a lengthy correction, Keller's appointment stemmed further negative attention. For this, The Times wins PR Play of the Week, the second time it's won in the past few months. The prior award was given for the paper's detailed journalistic investigation of Blair's career. The long- winded Sunday package was clearly an attempt to fess up to all of Blair's fabrications and acknowledge the systemic management problems that allowed them to happen. Instead, it prompted waves of employees to express their dissatisfaction very publicly on gossip pages and media blogs, giving long legs to the story. The reaction to Keller's appointment seems to be in stark contrast. Most observers portrayed him as a salve to what ails The Times. The New York Post called him a "Mr. Fixit," while The Washington Times cast the appointment in psychological terms, saying the move would bring "some closure to its high-profile identity crisis."

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