Murdoch’s Pick to Run The New York Post Bets On the Web and Celebs
Keith Poole arrived last month with plans to make the tabloid more digital. Many on his staff have yet to hear from him.,
Rupert Murdoch took a top editor from his brash and conservative London tabloid, The Sun, and put him in charge of his brash and conservative New York tabloid, The New York Post.
Keith Poole, a 44-year-old Englishman who remade The Sun’s website in recent years, started as The Post’s newsroom leader on March 22. Since then, most people on the staff have yet to hear from him, two Post employees said.
He had lunch with Emily Smith, the longtime editor of The Post’s gossip franchise, Page Six, but has yet to host an all-hands video call to say hello to the staff, which has been working remotely, or send an email greeting, the two people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal matters. For some staff members, the only evidence of the new boss’s presence has been the addition of his name to the newsroom’s main channel on Slack, the messaging app.
A spokeswoman for The Post said in an email that Mr. Poole was getting to know the team in his own way: “Keith has been meeting a number of Post staff in person, on video calls and on the phone (since most are working from home), and he has had lunch with other staff, not just Emily.”
Mr. Poole effectively replaced Col Allan, an Australian tabloid specialist who retired in March after more than 40 years at Murdoch papers.
Mr. Poole has more experience in attracting online readers than his predecessor. Before joining The Sun as its digital editor in 2016, he helped make The Daily Mail’s U.S. website a must-read for followers of celebrity gossip.
“At The Sun, it’s all they focus on,” said Chris Spargo, a reporter who worked at both of Mr. Poole’s prior employers. Mr. Poole also sees The Daily Mail as The Post’s main rival, several people with knowledge of the Post newsroom said.
A former colleague said Mr. Poole does not fit the stereotype of the gruff, boisterous tabloid editor.
“Keith is charming and has that British wit about him,” said David Martosko, a former U.S. political editor at The Daily Mail who is now a senior content executive at Zenger News. “More people in our business should adopt his collaborative editing style.”
His responsibilities include not only the now-profitable New York tabloid that Mr. Murdoch pulled out of bankruptcy in the 1990s but also the larger New York Post Group. That includes the Post Digital Network, which is made up of the paper’s website, a separate website for Page Six, the entertainment site Decider.com and the ad company Post Studios.
Mr. Poole, who studied at Loughborough University in England, arrived in New York after most of the Post staff had been working from home for more than a year. At least eight of The Post’s journalists have left recently, including the White House correspondent Ebony Bowden and the Page Six editorial director Maggie Coughlan.
Mr. Poole, who declined to be interviewed, worked at The Daily Mail from 2003 to 2016, spending part of that time in New York as the managing editor of its U.S. website, DailyMail.com. Within two years of going to work for Mr. Murdoch at The Sun, he had transformed its website into the biggest online brand in Britain. Last year he was named its deputy editor in chief.
In a 2018 interview, Mr. Poole said he focused on five key areas: news, celebrity, soccer, money and women’s lifestyle. While at The Sun, he met frequently with Robert Thomson, the chief executive of Mr. Murdoch’s newspaper company, News Corp, who was often in the London office before the pandemic, three people with knowledge of the relationship said.
Under Mr. Allan, The Post specialized in celebrity news and city coverage while also championing former President Donald J. Trump and attacking his rivals. Under Mr. Poole, the paper has kept its focus on celebs and liberal villains, as the April 16 front page suggested. The left side showed Jennifer Lopez in a revealing costume under the headline, “Inside J-Rod’s Breakup.” On the right, a headline blasted Democrats: “PACK RATS. Backlash as Dems try to take over Supreme Court.”