In May of 2006, New York Times Metro editor Joe Sexton—you remember him as the guy who so unreasonably begged his reporters to come into the office once in a while and be nice to him—announced the appointment of Jennifer Preston as the editor of the new Regional Weeklies at the Times. It sounded like Preston was going to singlehandedly save not only the Times Regional editions, but possibly all of print media; Sexton described her as a "true New York Times patriot," someone who was "irrepressible, unconquerable, utterly loyal." Now Sexton has sent a memo to the newsroom that says he's becoming more active in recruiting writers in the sections.
"The greatest patriot in the history of the Times apparently needs adult supervision," sniped one Times person, who added that, in any case, "The combined regional section is a dismal failure and they are probably going to pull the plug on the thing later this year." Until then—should that come to pass—Sexton will try to get anyone and everyone to write for it.
Update:This item has been slightly altered. Since publication, we've heard from others that disagree with that one person's assessment. What we know is this: we'll find out what means what in the fullness of time!
Highlights from the memo:
"I am going to become very active in recruiting more writers from across Metro to contribute to the sections. This is Metro space. And I would like these pages — specifically the cover— to reflect some of the best writing that Metro's staff writers have to offer.We're looking forward to Chip McGrath's forthcoming jeremiad on an unknown cat's litterbox, as well as Mike Winerip's trenchant analysis of the local elementary school's carpool lane.
Jennifer Preston and I will be meeting weekly to talk about story ideas — and prospective writers to execute them — and I will then be approaching you individually to commit to specific assignments.
For me, the appeal of writing any of the variety of stories and features contained in the weeklies is considerable and self-evident. But I asked Jennifer to channel some of her natural, uncontainable ebullience into written words spelling out some of the attractiveness of contributing to her sections...
In addition to cover stories, we are always looking for a variety of different pieces that include:
Essays/Columns: In addition to Mike Winerip's Parenting Column, we run two essays on a regular basis that we call Home Work and Generations. These essays run about 1,000 to 1,100 words. For Home Work, the essay, often first-person, takes a fresh look at the tasks that go into running a home. It can be funny (Chip McGrath setting his house on fire with pizza boxes in the fireplace in an essay about firewood) or obsessive (Laura Shaine Cunningham laundering her antique linens with good old-fashioned starch.) No topic is too small [emphasis ours!]; we've had a piece about taking the cover off the swimming pool) and cleaning out the garage.