Exclusive: Why the Culture Editor quit the NY Times

Exclusive: Why the Culture Editor quit the NY Times


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2017

We reported earlier that Danielle Mattoon had left very quietly two weeks ago, after just four years in the job. Here’s what the bosses are telling the worker-bees, with their customary self-congratulation and economy of truth:



Dear Colleagues,

No corner of our newsroom has been more energetically, ambitiously and creatively managed than our Culture report, and no desk head has championed her writers, editors and her audience more enthusiastically than Danielle Mattoon, the Culture editor since 2013.

So it is with considerable sadness that we let you know of her decision to accept an offer to create and run a new foundation. She will leave The Times later this month.

Our Culture report has no peer in the industry. Under Danielle’s leadership, we’ve become a home for the most innovative digital storytelling. Culture has embraced visuals in compelling ways and led coverage of big news and events, from the Cosby trial to the Fyre Festival fiasco. She has also worked closely with our marquee critics,
and hired some of our highest impact writers, making The Times the most important destination for cultural conversation.

Danielle and her team also spent many months rethinking the sprawling Culture print report last year. The result is there for all to see: more beautiful and visual daily and weekend sections that better reflect our coverage priorities and underscore our commitment to remain a must-read on all platforms.

Whether pitching a review of a Broadway blockbuster or a profile of an up-and-coming artist, Danielle exudes enthusiasm both for the subject and the writer in a way that commands attention. We will have more to say shortly about how we plan to fill the role of Culture editor. For now, we’d just like say how much we will miss her.

Dean & Joe


  • MWnyc says:

    Well, creating and running a foundation will probably be less stressful than trying to run the arts-and-culture section of a newspaper these days.

  • Olassus says:

    has embraced visuals
    more beautiful and visual
    Broadway blockbuster
    up-and-coming artist

    Yeah, we know the “coverage priorities.”

    • Anon says:

      Yes, assets that are cheap in acquisition as well as perception.
      No training needed for source and perceiver likewise.
      All in the instincts. No art(ificiality) involved. Appeal to primal instincts for making a sale.
      Dumbed down shit for dumbed down masses.

  • Cyril Blair says:

    “We will have more to say shortly about how we plan to fill the role of Culture editor.”

    Let me guess, a millennial with barely any experience to keep the salary low, someone whose expertise is in social media rather than the arts? Two millennials each with a half-time job, so you don’t have to pay benefits?

  • Helene Kamioner says:

    There was a time that the might Grey Lady was an immense source of inspiration, now it only offers aggravation, frustration and bitter disappointment. But hell, it’s the only game in town….New York that is. oops, there goes another burnt bridge.

  • Nydo says:

    I haven’t investigated the structure of positions at the New York Times, but I don’t think the Culture Editor is the overseer of coverage of the Arts and Entertainment section. Not that it matters, at least in regard to their diminished Classical music coverage.

    My faith in them took a huge dive about 20 years ago when they hired a critic for one of their main positions (who has since gone on the become a head critic at one of the other American papers) who reviewed a Chicago Symphony performance of the Rite of Spring, and made comments about the opening “oboe” solo, and later in the season reviewed a performance of Mahler 3 and talked about the prominent sound of the “bass drum” in the final movement….

  • Don says:

    Well, it’s either get shipped over to the NYT Obituary graveyard, or take the Bataan death march to the foundation. I’ll guess that she was replaced by an identical media clone.