Bill Keller Is Not a Professional Flack

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller deals with journalists all day, but that doesn’t always make him good at dealing with journalists. This week, the New York Observer’s John Koblin—the paper’s current print-media columnist, in a long line that includes me—asked Keller about a minor but noticeable change in its scheduled rotation of editors. Keller’s reply:

“Boy, John, do you need to get a life. Even I can’t see an interesting story in this, and I live here,” he wrote.


Also: “Thanks for your microscopic interest in the fine points of newsroom administration.”

It’s a basic point of media relations, but people mess this up all the time. When you say “This is not a story,” what you are telling the reporter is “This is a story.”