Editor’s note: This article spurred quite a bit of discussion on Twitter. If you’d like to join the conversation, use the hashtag #smnets. Carl V. Lewis storified some of the discussion that took place.
Bill Keller has spent the last eight years as executive editor of the New York Times. He recently announced he will step down from his post in September and hand it over to Jill Abramson, who will become the first female executive editor in the history of the paper. I asked Bill about his transition and some of the controversy around his statements regarding aggregation and Twitter.
You’ve been doing more writing as of late. Do you miss having the time to devote your energies to that entirely?
I spent the first 25 years of my working life swearing I’d never give up reporting for editing. But while it took some doing — Joe Lelyveld says it took him two years — to talk me into trying it, I’ve found it hugely rewarding. Sure, I’ve missed reporting and writing, and I’ve had some reminders along the way of how much I missed them.
I had a two-year involuntary break from editing in 2001-2003, my blissful exile, which I spent writing an op-ed column and pieces for the Times magazine. In 2009 I was on one of those hang-out-with-the-correspondents missions in Iran when all hell broke loose and I reenlisted as a notebook warrior. It was thrilling. But stepping down as executive editor is not about missing writing, except in the sense that I suppose it’s easier to give up a great job if you have something else you want to do.