Jon Landman, the editor in charge of arts and leisure, is leaving the paper. We’ll discuss the consequences in a minute. Here, first, is his message to staff:
I will be taking the buyout and leaving The Times. We all know that the newsroom has to reduce its costs. No less urgent is its responsibility to cultivate a new generation of leaders. My continued presence would help accomplish neither. So it’s time to go.
I’ve never quite believed my good fortune here, a run of blessings too various and extravagant to keep expanding forever. The Times has given me an endless series of astonishing opportunities over the last 26 years, ending with what has to be the best job in journalism. (Out of journalism? Maybe I’d rather have played center field for the Yankees, as long as they’d let me hit leadoff.) To say I have been well treated would be like saying Warren Buffett is well off; the words are true but they don’t begin to capture the scale of the thing.
Landman, 60, has been a key player in the paper’s recent turmoil. He was a prime agitator in the Jayson Blair affair while editor of the paper’s digital edition. He was appointed culture editor in 2009, having held the job in a temporary capacity a few years before.
He inherited a bloated payroll and a dusty set of sclerotic practices, few of which he managed to change. As arts coverage declined, each artform retained its own separate editor, some of whom did little but intrigue away at the desk. Landman preached renewal and achieved none. He was vigorously involved in the demotion last year of classical music critic, Allan Kozinn, to no notable beneficial effect.
Landman’s departure leaves several section chiefs sorely exposed, first among them the editor in charge of classical music, James Oestreich.
No reason has been given for his exit. Some suspect it may be an anticipation of a shift in tectonic plates since the arrival of ex-BBC chief Mark Thomson as chief executive.
On a collegial level, I found Landman professional, agreeable, curious and amusing. But then I never had to work for him. We exchanged a few courteous emails and shared a leisurely coffee in 2010. I wish him well in his next career.