James Bennet returns to the New York Times as editorial page director

New York Times James Bennet

James Bennet is returning to the New York Times as the company’s editorial page director. The move comes as current director Andrew M. Rosenthal steps down. Bennet currently serves as editor at The Atlantic magazine.

Rosenthal will leave the New York Times in late April though he will continue to write for the company. Rosenthal’s online column will cover subjects like the presidential election.

The New York Times announced the move with a statement from Rosenthal, who said that he feels “very honored to have served in this position for longer than any editorial page editor in the modern history of The Times.” He added, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to step back and focus my full attention on writing about subjects that I care deeply about.”

James Bennet spent 15 years with the Times in roles like White House correspondent before he left the company to work at The Atlantic. CNN Money notes that his return positions him as a major player in the company’s future.

Politico first reported the possibility of Bennet’s return on Sunday, adding that the new position “could even put him in line to succeed executive editor Dean Baquet.” Politico added that there is currently no “single clear heir apparent” for Baquet among the newsroom’s current leaders. The editorial page has sometimes been a steppingstone to the top position in the NYT newsroom.

Monday’s announcement confirmed Politico’s report, though Bennet’s new role as Rosenthal’s replacement came as a surprise. Bennet stated that he was honored to succeed Rosenthal and that he is “looking forward to joining my new colleagues to continue his work imagining all the new possibilities for intelligent commentary in these times.”

Arthur Sulzberger Jt., The Times’s publisher, noted that Bennet has ushered “in the resurgence” of The Atlantic. He added, “We also knew, or at least hoped, that someday he would return.”

In a separate statement, The Atlantic said that it will appoint Bob Cohn, previously co-president with James Bennet, as sole president of The Atlantic. Cohn and The Atlantic owner David Bradley “will lead the search for a new editor in chief.”