Dean Baquet Cancer
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A short news article posted to the Times web site on Monday reports that the newspaper's brand-new executive editor, Dean Baquet, "had a malignant tumor removed from his kidney on Saturday after "doctors discovered the tumor on Thursday."
The Times article leaves many questions unanswered, among them:
•In what hospital did the surgery take place?
•Will Mr. Baquet receive any follow-up treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation?
•What are the chances of a recurrence?
•Why did it take until Monday to disclose a tumor found on Thursday and a surgery that happened Saturday?
Times reporters who view these questions as an obnoxious invasion of privacy may want to refer to Joe Nocera's 2008 column taking to task Apple for being less than forthcoming about the health of its then-chief executive Steve Jobs. "There are no guarantees with cancer. We all know that," Mr. Nocera wrote, lecturing Jobs that he "needs to treat his shareholders with at least a modicum of respect. And telling them whether or not he is sick would be a good place to start."
I understand that Jobs was chief executive while Mr. Baquet is executive editor. But the Times is a public company in the business of providing news, and Mr. Baquet is the head of the news-producing part of the company. Just last month we were hearing that Mr. Baquet was such an essential player that the mere threat that he would leave for Bloomberg was enough for Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to dump Jill Abramson and install Mr. Baquet as executive editor. So, to the question raised by Mr. Nocera in his Jobs coverage as to whether Mr. Baquet's health issues are "material" for the purposes of the SEC, if the circumstances weren't so medically sober and serious there might actually be some humor in seeing the Times take the position that the executive editor's health is immaterial to the company's fortunes.
As it is, we here at Smarterimes wish Mr. Baquet a speedy recovery. Perhaps he will return to his editor's desk with a newly deepened perspective that he can apply the next time he is tasked with editing copy like Mr. Nocera's column about Jobs.
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