theGrio’s 100: Dean Baquet, managing to keep the New York Times afloat

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Dean Baquet

Dean Baquet

Who is Dean Baquet?

An accomplished journalist and former Pulitzer Prize winner (for his Chicago Tribune reporting on City Hall corruption), New Orleans native and former Times-Picayune reporter Dean Baquet, 56, has scaled to the heights of the newspaper profession at a time of considerable peril and upheaval in the media landscape.

He has served as the national editor of the New York Times from 1995 to 2000 and was the managing editor of the Los Angeles Times from 200o to 2006.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

In the summer of 2011, Baquet made the jump to the New York Times, becoming that venerable newspaper’s managing editor. And, according to the Daily Beast, he “may still become the first African-American editor of the New York Times.”

When promoted at the Times, Baquet told the staff there, “My main goal is to stay as close as possible to news gathering. To work the room, to talk to editors and reporters every day, to make sure that we break big stories and have fun doing it.”

During Baquet’s tenure as managing editor the Times has weathered figurative and literal storms, still upholding the “Old Gray Lady’s” standards while covering a historically-contentious presidential race and election.

What’s next for Baquet?

Baquet has ably defended the Times in the wake of criticism over whether or not reporter Mark Mazzetti leaked sensitive information to the CIA about the making of the controversial film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty.

“The optics aren’t what they look like,” Baquet told Politico. “I’ve talked to Mark, I know the circucmstance, and given what I know, it’s much ado about nothing.”

In the meantime, he’s working to keep his paper’s content from falling victim to the corporate mentality he believes is eroding confidence in print journalism.

“I do think that corporate owners [of newspapers] pay lip service to public service, but a lot of them don’t care as much about it,” he said in 2012 interview with Investigating Power.

“At a lot of companies, not the New York Times, thank God, and not the Washington Post, the ownership expects editors to be like division managers,” he added.