Bill Keller told The Observer that Sam Sifton was his top choice to replace Frank Bruni.
He asked Mr. Sifton, The Times‘ culture editor, sometime after Mr. Bruni announced he was stepping down in May, but Mr. Sifton demurred. He wanted to keep editing.
But Mr. Keller was persistent, and managing editor Jill Abramson, living editor Trish Hall and dining editor Pete Wells all wanted him, “not for any one piece of writing but for a depth of knowledge combined with a sparkle in the writing, a real love of food that is not blind love, and an infectious sense of humor,” said Mr. Keller.
After Mr. Keller developed a short list—which included, according to sources, the Times-Picayune‘s Brett Anderson, L.A. bureau chief Jennifer Steinhauer and dining writer Julia Moskin—he decided to shelve it and went back to Mr. Sifton.
“After lots of thought and discussion, I went back and said unless he really thought the job would make him unhappy or ruin his family life, I’d love him to take it,” said Mr. Keller.
Now, Mr. Sifton takes over the position that Mr. Keller told us doesn’t quite have the power it used to; he’ll have to rethink it at a time when all things media are being reinvented.