Bookforum Editor Chris Lehmann Joins Yahoo News

In mid-January, Yahoo News blogging editor Andrew Golis posted a notice on his personal Web site, announcing that he was looking to hire a deputy editor and five bloggers. “As many of you know, I was recently hired by Yahoo News to build a network of news blogs,” wrote Mr. Golis. “I’m looking to build a team of voracious news consumers with an eye for a good story angle and the ability to write in tight, engaging prose.”

Mr. Golis, a bespectacled 26-year-old Harvard grad who lives in Sunnyside, Queens, recently picked up a pair of experienced writers. The Observer has learned that Bookforum editor Chris Lehmann, formerly of New York, Congressional Quarterly and this newspaper (and Mr. Ana Marie Cox!), has joined Yahoo News as the managing editor of the news blog. The new job tops off a big couple of months for Mr. Lehmann, who in February sold a collection of writing based on his column for The Awl, Rich People Things, to Or Books.

Brett Michael Dykes, who previously wrote the Cajun Boy in the City blog, has also joined Mr. Golis’ team. Mr. Dykes, who is based in New York, will be writing for Yahoo about national affairs.

An embryonic form of the news blog, dubbed The Newsroom, currently lives on the Yahoo News site, accessed from a menu of verticals, between “photos” and “local.” However, the spiffed-up version of the site, which promises to be a much more robust and saucy affair, isn’t expected to launch until sometime later this year. What will it look like and how will it fit in with Yahoo’s broader media strategy?

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Mr. Golis declined to comment. Ditto, Mr. Lehmann. Likewise, a Yahoo spokesperson said it was too early to talk about the project.
Oh you close-to-the-vest new-media peeps!

It might surprise you that recent estimates put Yahoo News as the single-highest-trafficked news site on the Internet, with 42 million monthly unique visitors, topping the nearest rivals CNN Digital and MSNBC Digital. In the past, the site has relied heavily on content partnerships and well-masticated wire copy (a recent AP article on Yahoo News with the headline “Lesbian teen sues to force school to hold prom,” generated more than 50,000 comments). But recently, there have been some signs that Yahoo’s content strategy is shifting.

Earlier this month, in an interview with Ad Age, Yahoo chief Carol Bartz said it was important for her company to create a blend of content, including “our own editorial voice on our site.” In January, Yahoo entered into a partnership with former NBC entertainment chief and current Electus studio head Ben Silverman to create exclusive video content for Yahoo. And not long ago a Yahoo spokesperson told Mediabistro that “it’s important for people to see those sites as destinations, rather than just places they end up.”

Since the summer of 2007, when it bought and began significantly beefing up its original sports reporting, coverage and blogging, Yahoo has created a template of sorts for how to give its top-ranked news site more of an original feel. It will be Mr. Golis’ job to try and pull off a similar feat in the world of politics and news. Prior to joining Yahoo, Mr. Golis spent several years as the deputy publisher of Talking Points Memo, where he helped grow Joshua Marshall’s progressive political site into a thriving boutique news organization.

For the time being, the job of Yahoo news senior political blogger remains vacant. And this week, according to his Twitter feed, Mr. Golis was making the rounds in Washington, despite a head cold. In the meantime, applications have poured in from would-be Yahoo scribes—particularly for the job of media and culture reporter. “Please only apply if you have experience doing reporting in this area,” Mr. Golis responded on his Web site to the deluge of résumés, “commentary and consumption don’t count.”

CORRECTION: The initial headline on this post suggested that Mr. Lehmann was leaving Bookforum. In fact, he will be continuing on as an editor at Bookforum in addition to his new role at Yahoo.

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Bookforum Editor Chris Lehmann Joins Yahoo News