We are ecstatic that Betsy Reed, the Executive Editor of the Nation since 2006, will be our new editor-in-chief, beginning January 5.
When, several weeks ago, we sat down to create a list of potential new editors, we placed only one name on it: Reed’s. That’s because we knew she is the ideal editor to lead us into our next phase of development. That she was so excited about the prospect of coming to the Intercept was great news, and the fact that we were all able to make this happen so quickly is even better news.
Reed is a brilliant editor who has shepherded some of the most important investigative journalism of the last decade. At the Nation, she edited investigative articles, columns and books that have won the George Polk Award and the National Magazine Award. She edited both of Jeremy Scahill’s books, the first on Blackwater and the second on Obama’s “Dirty Wars.” She edited AC Thompson’s work on race and Hurricane Katrina, Naomi Klein’s investigations of the BP oil spill, Aram Roston’s exposés on contracting fraud in Afghanistan, and Liliana Segura’s pioneering examinations on the brutal, inhumane and often racist American criminal justice system.
From the first time we spoke with her about working with us, Reed was full of innovative ideas about how to further implement, and greatly strengthen, our original vision for what we wanted to create with a new journalism outlet. She is bringing a wide array of ideas for how to expand the Intercept’s coverage and reach, accompanied by her long-demonstrated ability to make that happen. We could not be more excited about how we will continue to grow under her editorial leadership.
It’s worth remembering that the Intercept, which launched in February, is not even a year old. It’s no secret (because we’ve been quite transparent about it) that we’ve encountered some difficulties in navigating this initial stage of building a new media organization.
But we are more optimistic than ever about the Intercept’s future because those difficulties, largely resolved, are easily outweighed by the great foundation we have been able to build under our outgoing editor, John Cook.
We have assembled a team of truly outstanding journalists, editors, research specialists, and technologists, who are excited about and committed to the Intercept’s future. We have the resources to continue to grow that team and to fuel their passion-driven journalism. And now we have one of the most highly regarded editors in political journalism to oversee and further develop it all.
In addition to Reed, we just welcomed to the Intercept’s staff Ken Silverstein, one of the nation’s best investigative reporters on corporate malfeasance and the corrupting influence of money in politics. Just weeks ago we were joined by our first national security editor, Sharon Weinberger, who helped create Wired’s Danger Room, as well as with our new young reporter, Juan Thompson, whose on-the-scene coverage of Ferguson has been superb. Other equally significant new hires will be announced very shortly.
When a new journalism outlet is created, the most difficult (and important) challenge is producing great journalism. That’s the area where we believe we’ve excelled.
To begin with, more NSA stories have been reported, and more NSA documents published, at the Intercept than any other media outlet in the world, even though we launched eight months after that reporting began. Some of those stories have been among the most significant from the Snowden archive.
On Wednesday, Vanity Fair asked if “First Look Media can create headlines that aren’t about itself,” and less than 24 hours later, Ryan Gallagher answered with one of the most important NSA stories yet (edited by Weinberger): a remarkably well-reported exposé on the NSA’s dangerous attacks on cellphone encryption systems that made headlines around the world. On Wednesday, former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson noted that, in the U.S., only the Intercept continues to do NSA reporting and lambasted U.S. media outlets for all but abandoning the story (even as international media outlets aggressively cover our reporting).
The Intercept has produced ample amounts of great journalism beyond the Snowden archive. We exposed long-sought secrets about the US Government’s terrorist watch lists, published the comprehensively reported account by Jordan Smith of the imminent execution in Texas of a likely innocent man, broke the news of NBC News’ removal of Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza (which resulted in his quick reinstatement), and told the remarkable story of Jim Bamford’s attacks from the U.S. government for his heroic NSA reporting decades ago.
In sum, while we have a lot of work to do, we are proud of the journalism we have been able to do this past year, deeply excited about the journalists who are at the Intercept, and thrilled that we have such an experienced and innovative editor-in-chief to work with us as we continue to grow.
Laura Poitras[email protected]fieldofvision.org