James Oestreich has finally accepted a buyout and will retire at the end of the month from the New York Times. He’s 70 this year, so it’s about time, but he has been hanging on for dear life. His departure will unblock a function that has ossified and gone rancid in recent years.
Some weeks back, Oestreich’s protector the culture editor Jon Landman resigned from the paper. Feeling the chill, Oestreich has accepted the inevitable.
Now, at last, maybe, the Times might get to grips with major new developments in classical music.
UPDATE: Here’s his farewell message to staff, gleefully mailed by some of them to Slipped Disc:
After 24 years on staff at The New York Times, I have decided to make a major change and take advantage of The Times’s current buyout offer. I will complete my tenure as classical music editor on Jan. 31, but I am delighted to report that I will be advising the department on our coverage through the spring, as well as continuing to write for The Times on a freelance basis.
As many of you have heard me say (perhaps ad nauseam), this has been a dream job. If I had drawn up an ideal job description for myself beforehand, I could hardly have done better. The opportunity to do this work, in a field and on behalf of an art form that I truly love, at The Times – an institution for which my respect, impossibly high to begin with, has nevertheless grown through years of seeing it in action – was a privilege beyond measure.
That this privilege has also been all-consuming will come as no surprise to colleagues in the newsroom, and I am excited about the prospect (finally) of balancing my life with a bit of teaching, other writing and maybe even a book project.
I could not be more grateful to those many treasured colleagues in the newsroom and to all my friends within and without the paper. I hope that our paths will continue to cross in projects for The Times and in other ventures. You can reach me at this e-mail address during the interim.
All best wishes,