Indeed, it’s widely believed that Mr. Berke’s move to the national desk means he is being groomed for a bigger job. In less than four years, Mr. Keller will turn 65, the mandatory retirement age for executive editor. Ms. Abramson is among a very short list of candidates to replace Mr. Keller. Mr. Berke, who worked alongside Ms. Abramson in Washington for more than a year when she was the bureau chief, is among a very short list of candidates who could work alongside her again as managing editor.
“He needs this experience to be Jill’s number two,” said one source.
With the national desk in his control now, Mr. Berke is essentially going back to school to get the degree he’s never had.
And so far, here’s what he’s working with: Dean Murphy, Ms. Daley’s deputy, who was passed over for the job, will take the deputy spot in the business section under Larry Ingrassia. David Firestone said that Mr. Berke asked him to stay on, but he was still undecided.
“There are a lot of changes going to the national desk, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to stay,” said Mr. Firestone. “I was asked to stay, but I can’t say at this point what’s likely to happen next.” (Sources said that Mr. Firestone may take a job on the editorial board.)
Mr. Berke told Jack Kadden, Suzanne Spector and Joan Nassivera, all editors on the national desk, that they would have to find new jobs at the paper, sources said. Mr. Berke, often described as one of the nice guys in the shark tank that is The Times, is allowing them the time to find new jobs before booting them from the desk, the sources added.
And in the next week, Mr. Berke is expected to make more announcements: formally naming Mr. Nagourney, a former colleague in Washington and a close friend, the Los Angeles bureau chief, giving him the plum assignment that he’s been due for some time; naming Lisa Tozzi, a popular staffer on the Web, as one of his deputies; and bringing in Marcus Mabry, the enterprise editor for the business section, to be an editor.
The seeds are being planted quickly. “There are no grand designs behind the move,” said Mr. Berke in an email, discussing his new job. “It grew out of some blue-sky discussions among top editors, and I’m really excited about the challenge.”
“We made Rick national editor because we were confident he’d be a great national editor,” said Mr. Keller. “He’s journalistically ambitious and his enthusiasm for great stories is infectious.”