March 28, 2013

Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller says he got a call from the search firm that assisted in finding a replacement for Nicholas Lemann atop the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. “They asked if I was interested,” says Keller. “We had a couple of conversations, and they didn’t go anywhere.”

Columbia eventually settled on two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, former Washington Postie and then-non-tweeter Steve Coll, “one of the most experienced and respected journalists of his generation,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. A report in Capital indicated that Coll had edged out internal fave Bill Grueskin, a fellow who’d “been responsible for a massive overhaul of the school’s curriculum.”

Whatever happened with Keller, he doesn’t want to gab about it. “Coll will probably be happier in the job than I would have been,” says Keller, before shutting me down on whatever dissonance might have existed between him and the school. He resisted all attempts to get a bit more detail on the interaction, saying he doesn’t like to do such “postmortems,” which wouldn’t be fair either to the school or to him. He’s happy, he said, being an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

Robert Hornsby, a rep for the school, says, “we aren’t commenting about the process or the other candidates.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.