NY Times Names David Leonhardt Washington Bureau Chief

Move marks first major personnel decision by new executive editor Jill Abramson

Last Updated: July 22, 2011 @ 10:42 AM

The New York Times officially announced that Pulitzer Prize-winning economic columnist and reporter David Leonhardt will be its next Washington bureau chief, as was speculated Thursday.

Leonhardt will take over for Dean Baquet in September when Baquet heads to New York as one of new executive editor Jill Abramson's two managing editors (John Geddes is the other).  This is the first major personnel decision for Abramson since it was announce she would be succeeding Bill Keller in the top editorial job.

The Times statement credits Leonhardt's reportorial instincts, his knowledge of Washington and his web savvy, calling him “one of our finest writers and most elegant thinkers.”

Leonhardt worked for the Washington Post and Business Week before coming to the Times, where he has written about economic affairs and helped create the Economix blog.

He won a Pulitzer this year for commentary on topics from the federal budget deficit to health care reform.

His name was initially not at the top of the list of speculative contenders due to his lack of experience as an editor,  but his name quickly rose to the top as this week wore on. The Times’ press release does make a point of lauding passed-over bureau deputies Dick Stevenson and Rebecca Corbett.