Who Edits America's Top Papers?

Who Edits America's Top Papers?

Who Edits America's Top Papers?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Sept. 6 2001 7:11 PM

Who Edits America's Top Papers?

Howell Raines took over Wednesday as the New York Times' executive editor, which means he oversees the paper's news pages. (Previously he was the Times' editorial page editor. Click here to read Howard Kurtz's profile of Raines in Thursday's Washington Post or here to read Raines' company bio.) Who edits the other newspapers covered by Slate's "Today's Papers"?


The first thing to know when reading a masthead is that titles deceive. Journalism isn't baseball, where a first baseman is a first baseman no matter what team he plays for. Different newspapers use different titles for journalists who play the same position. The executive editor at the New York Times mostly closely resembles the "managing editor" at the Wall Street Journal. USA Today and the Los Angeles Times go with the simple "editor," and the Washington Post opts for "executive editor." Why all the variance? Explainer doesn't know. Just accept it.

Who edits the other papers? Let's start with the Wall Street Journal. The most visible figure at the Journal has long been Robert Bartley, who edits the editorial page and holds the title of "editor." (Bartley will hand over his editorial page duties to Paul Gigot this month.) But the man who edits the news pages is Managing Editor Paul Steiger. Steiger was named managing editor in 1991, though he was running the Journal's day-to-day news operation for more than a year before that as deputy managing editor. (The previous managing editor, Norman Pearlstine, had been working on other projects, including a magazine, book publishing, and business television for the company that owns the Journal, Dow Jones.) Steiger joined the Journal in 1966 as a reporter in the San Francisco bureau but left two years later to work for the Los Angeles Times. He rejoined the Journal in 1983 as assistant managing editor. He was born in New York City and attended Yale University, where he studied economics. In October 1999, he turned down an offer to become president of CNNfn.

The Los Angeles Times is edited by John Carroll, where the "editor" is the top dog in the newsroom. Before taking over in April 2000, Carroll edited the Baltimore Sun. He also edited the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the ProvidenceJournal-Bulletin. He studied English at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

USA Today's newsroom is overseen by the paper's editor, Karen (pronounced CAR-in) Jurgenson. She's been with the paper since its founding in 1982, first as a reporter, then as a managing editor and a senior editor, then becoming editorial page editor in 1991. She got the top news job in April 1999. She attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and also worked for the Charlotte News and the Miami News. But she's not the first woman to edit a national newspaper. That title goes to Charlotte Fanning, who edited the Christian Science Monitor in the 1980s.

The top man in the Washington Post newsroom is Executive Editor Leonard Downie, who's had the job since 1991. He graduated from Ohio State, and he started at the Post as a summer intern in 1964.

Explainer rerun: President Bush is going to invoke executive privilege to prevent a House committee from seeing Justice Department memos from the Clinton administration. What's executive privilege? Emily Yoffe tackled that subject in February.

Explainer thanks Slate reader Joel Jacobsen for asking the question.