New York Times Names First Female Public Editor

Margaret M. Sullivan, the former editor of the Buffalo News, will be the Gray Lady's first ombudswoman 

The New York Times on Monday named Margaret M. Sullivan, the current editor and vice president of the Buffalo News, the newspaper's fifth ever — and first female — public editor following a several-month search.

Sullivan will succeed Arthur S. Brisbane, whose columns as the Times' ombudsman were not well-received internally or by readers. A January column questioning whether reporters should act as "truth vigilantes" sparked wide-spread criticism.

He announced earlier this year that he would step down in September.

Also read: Times' New Public Editor: If You're Handed a Loaded Gun, You 'Should Aim First'

Sullivan will step down as editor of the Buffalo News and start her new job Sept. 1.

The public editor serves as the Times' ombudsman, representing and responding to readers, scrutinizing colleagues' work and lifting the veil on the inner workings of the newspaper, all while reporting directly to the publisher to avoid conflict of interest.

As public editor, Sullivan will continue to write a print column, but she will take a more active role as an online moderator, initiating and orchestrating a conversation with readers. 

"Margaret has exactly the right experience to assume this critical role for us at this time," executive editor Jill Abramson, the first woman lead the Times's newsroom, said in a statement. "She has an impressive 32-year background in print journalism where she has distinguished herself as a reporter, columnist, editor and manager. And critically for us at the time, she has shown adeptness at embracing new platforms and engaging and interacting with readers in real time online, in print and in person."

Also read: The Times Gets a New Public Editor

Sullivan served as the editor of the Buffalo News, the largest news outlet in upstate New York, for the last 12 years. She began her career there in 1980 as a reporter and worked her way up until she reached the highest rank in 1999.