After an exhaustive search, The New York Times has found its new corporate media reporter: Fortune’s Tim Arango will begin work next month.
Mr. Arango will take over the Times beat vacated this summer by Richard Siklos, who left the paper for Fortune. The corporate media beat is a prominent one at the paper, and involves coverage of industry heavyweights like Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation and Sumner Redstone and Viacom—topics that Mr. Arango covered at Fortune.
Mr. Arango, a square-jawed thirty-three year old, said that Mr. Ingrassia originally approached him in July, but the deal wasn’t completed until recently.
His arrival will come as a relief to the Times’ business team. Since Mr. Siklos left, the paper’s business reporters have been grumbling about having to take time away from their normal beats to pinch-hit on corporate media stories, according to one.
“It’s about time we finally hired someone,” said the reporter. “It’s taken such a long time and there was a lot of frustration here.”
It wasn’t through lack of effort. Indeed, it doesn’t appear that Mr. Arango was Times business editor Larry Ingrassia’s first choice for the job. According to several sources, Mr. Ingrassia offered the position to two Wall Street Journal reporters, Kate Kelly and Merissa Marr, who both declined. Mr. Ingrassia was also in advanced talks with Journal media reporter Sarah Ellison before she pulled herself out of the running, and he talked to another Journal media reporter, Matthew Karnitschnig.
More broadly, as Off the Record has previously reported, Mr. Ingrassia has recently launched an effort to lure reporters away from The Journal, particularly since news broke that Rupert Murdoch was on the verge of taking over the paper. But so far the campaign has yielded little.
Mr. Ingrassia denied to Off the Record that he made any other offers. “No one gets a job offer here unless they speak to Bill Keller or Jill Abramson,” he said. “Tim Arango is the only candidate that I brought to them.”
“I talk to a lot of people all the time,” he continued. “Me talking to someone saying, ‘Gee, would you be interested?’ It’s me trying to figure out whether they’d be a good fit here.”
There’s no doubt Mr. Arango is excited about the new opportunity. “I always wondered if I could make it [at The Times], and this is my chance,” said Mr. Arango, who has also worked at The New York Post. “It’s not like I was trying to get away from anything [at Fortune].”
And though, on Oct. 1, Mr. Siklos wrote a 3,200-word piece for Fortune on the management transition at Time Warner, a juicy story that might previously have been Mr. Arango’s, he said that his departure has nothing to do with Mr. Siklos’ recent arrival. “I never viewed him as a threat at all,” said Mr. Arango. “I thought he’d be great for the magazine.”
Mr. Arango will join a media team that boasts some old hands, like Bill Carter, David Carr and Jacques Steinberg, but also some staffers who are relatively green: Media editor Bruce Headlam took over at the beginning of the year; deputy media editor Jennifer Kingson came in from the weekend business desk in March; Richard Pérez-Peña joined the beat in the spring; and 22-year-old TV news reporter Brian Stelter started in July.
Mr. Arango’s biggest story, of course, figures to concern Rupert Murdoch and his plans for The Journal. He recently wrote a cover story for Fortune on the Fox Business Network, for which he interviewed the News Corp. chief. “He clearly wants to compete more with The Times,” he said of Mr. Murdoch, “and we’ll see what kind of access I’ll get. … I always felt like I had good access to him.”
We’ll start finding out December 3, when Mr. Arango begins at The Times.