Unlike Larry Kramer, who recently took over as publisher of USA Today, Baron said that he is not carrying a makeover plan for The Post.
“I’m not coming in with a road map or bill of particulars,” he said, adding that he wanted to consult with people at the paper first. “Unlike the folks who ran for president, I’m not talking about what I would do on day one because I don’t have a list of things to do on day one.”
Baron, 58, was born and raised in Tampa. He simultaneously earned a BA and MBA at Lehigh University, completing the five-year program in four years. He started out as a local and business reporter at the Los Angeles Times, where he rose to business editor and then assistant managing editor. From 1996 until 1999, he was a senior editor at the New York Times, where former colleagues said he roiled longtime Washington correspondents by sometimes asking for additional reporting.
From 2000 to 2001, he did an 18-month stint as executive editor of the Miami Herald, where he oversaw Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the saga of Elián González, the Cuban boy ensnared in an unusual international custody fight, and was named editor of the year by Editor & Publisher magazine.
He also hired an accounting firm to recount valid ballots cast in all 67 Florida counties in the disputed 2000 presidential election. Republicans accused the paper of seeking to delegitimize the George W. Bush presidency.
“Of course, that wasn’t our intent,” Baron wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. And, he added, the paper’s recount “showed that under almost all scenarios — depending how you counted the various levels of hanging chads — Bush would have won a recount.”
The recount ended up costing $850,000, far more than Baron’s initial $250,000 estimate, though he avoided the wrath of Knight Ridder chief executive Tony Ridder and the Herald’s then-publisher, Alberto Ibarguen. “By the grace of God, Tony, and Alberto, I wasn’t fired for being so wildly off on the estimate,” he wrote in the e-mail.
He now heads to Washington, where he has never worked before.
“It is a great newspaper,” he said of The Post. “It has had a distinctive role in American journalism since I got in the field and it has a great future ahead of it. It has a tremendous reservoir of talent and it will be a great place to work.”