Times Adds Farrell to Baghdad Reinforcements

The New York Times didn’t have to look far for one new Baghdad correspondent: He’s already in Baghdad.

Stephen Farrell, a Middle East correspondent for The Times of London, will be switching to the New York Times compound later this year.

“He’s a very seasoned war correspondent,” said New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner.

Bronner noted that the paper has also hired Alissa Rubin, who was the Los Angeles Times‘ Baghdad bureau co-chief from 2003 to 2005.

In addition to writing dispatches, Farrell has multimedia credentials: He co-writes the British newspaper’s “Inside Iraq” blog. A recent entry included a “Video Diary” of a roadside bombing.

“These are people with experience, generally in war and in difficult circumstances, and specifically in Iraq,” Bronner said. “We wanted people who have some institutional memory regarding Iraq so we don’t start from zero.”

John F. Burns, the current Times Baghdad bureau chief, plans to leave this summer to head the London bureau. And Sabrina Tavernise, who spent 22 months in Iraq from 2003 to 2007, has recently left the country. Next month, Tavernise is due to become the Istanbul bureau chief, a job that has been vacant since the contentious 2005 departure of reporter Susan Sachs.

Besides the hires of Farrell and Rubin, the Times is still seeking to fill more slots by summer, most likely with reporters less seasoned in war reporting. On Feb. 26, two openings for one-year rotating reporting jobs were listed on the paper’s internal Web site.

– Michael Calderone