Sam Tanenhaus is finally hanging it up at the Week in Review, and the editing job will go to his deputy, Dave Smith. Mr. Tanenhaus will continue to edit the Book Review and will also—surprise!—start writing more for the paper. Last week, we told you about the trend that’s all the rage these days at The Times, where several department heads are shedding their editor responsibilities in order to write more for the paper (and as we reported today, Joe Sexton, at least for the moment, will not be one of them).
Here’s Bill Keller’s memo:
To the Staff:
For the past two years Sam Tanenhaus has performed the amazing feat of editing two weekly sections — The Book Review and the Week in Review — while writing enough sage prose of his own to fill one book, grace an acre or so of newsprint in our own paper, and lend a little intellectual heft to a few other publications.
He has proposed to reorganize his workload, handing off the Week in Review and applying his ambidextrous labors to a mere two jobs: The Book Review, and writing for our pages. In addition to putting out the best (and not merely because it’s the last) book review in America, he will be contributing periodic columns to the Arts & Leisure section — his erudite riff on the case of Amy Bishop last Sunday was a foretaste — and, it’s fair to assume, will continue to pop up in the pages of the Week in Review.
Dave Smith has been the heart and soul of the Week in Review for most of the seven years he has worked there as assistant and deputy, and each of the editors for whom he has labored will tell you that for long stretches he was the de facto editor of the section. Now he gets the title he has earned several times over.
Since he joined The Times as a copy editor in Sports, Dave has worked the room — Metro, The City, the media department — acquiring a legion of friends and fans. As Katy Roberts said when he ascended to the deputy job at the Review, he “stands for everything that is best about The New York Times.” He is a creative thinker, a tough competitor, an inspiring mentor.
As the newspaper as a whole has taken on more of the analytical work that used to be a Review monopoly, and as features like Room for Debate have invigorated thoughtful discussion at the website, the Review has adjusted nimbly to reestablish its raison d’etre as a place where reporters — mostly Times reporters — can reflect on the deeper meaning of the news, tease out an idea that might have been overlooked in the rush of coverage, recount a back story, or advise readers what to watch for in upcoming events.
Dave’s promotion is effective next Monday.