Here’s what else…you need to…know today. This week, the New York Times announced that The Daily will receive a second host alongside Michael Barbaro: Sabrina Tavernise.
Tavernise should be familiar with Daily-heads. She was one of Barbaro’s main replacements when the star anchor was on paternity leave for much of 2021, alternating host responsibilities with political reporter Astead W. Herndon and tech columnist Kevin Roose. She was also the featured reporter for several notable projects launched through the construction of The Daily over the years, including a five-part series on race and policing in post-Freddie Gray Baltimore titled “Charm City” and several multi-part deep dives into the beleaguered state of abortion in the United States. United. Tavernise is a Times veteran; she joined the paper in 2000 and, according to the press release accompanying her appointment, she was a foreign correspondent for ten years, reporting from places including Russia, Turkey and Pakistan.
This development is important for several reasons. There are the obvious things: The Daily is Gray Lady’s highly lucrative flagship audio program and one of the biggest podcasts in the world, and there will always be some intrigue and drama when it comes to a major base-building tweak. a product like this. More specifically, there is the fact that a large part of The DailyThe rapid rise of into a legitimate media phenomenon in its early years — the show turned five last February — was solely tied to a sense of celebrity that flourished around Barbaro. Its visibility was fueled in large part by key aesthetic innovations in the audio news format that relied on its positioning as a host whose humanity you could latch onto as a listener, well below the personalities larger than life cable news anchors. but much smoother than your standard NPR news anchor. In case you weren’t aware at the time, it was the sort of thing where hymns and appreciations were openly written about the bespectacled, bearded Barbaro (see here and here, among others). The tenor of this fame was unexpected and more than a little unorthodox, in general but especially at the time. Times, which has a complicated history with the notion of the newsroom star system. Although it has opened up over the past few years, it hasn’t been fast enough for some.
What was tricky about Barbaro’s stardom, however, was the strategic risk it suggested. Historically speaking, there was a very real question as to whether the success of The Daily has been too dependent on Barbaro as personality and presence. If he decides to leave The Dailyperhaps because of burnout or boredom or the siren call of TV (or CNN+, I guess), would listeners stick around?
That risk seems diminished these days. A lot of that, I believe, has to do with Barbaro taking that paternity leave for quite a bit last year, which created a permission structure between the show and its listeners, from so that the Times‘ the audio team could systematically conduct a series of trials with other hosting voices and prepare listeners for the possibility of a Daily without Barbaro, or at least one Daily it’s not fair Barbaric. Adding Tavernise permanently as an equal host to Barbaro seems like the logical endpoint to this mitigation change to me. For all purposes, The DailyThe foundations are now fully established for the long term, far into the future. The question now – for me, at least, as a gossip-watcher – is whether Tavernise’s appointment was simply to codify taking things off Barbaro’s plate or if it’s to help him prepare a Daily Departure.