I have conflicting feelings about Dean as an editor. On one hand he has worked on some amazing stories (there was a time that the NYTm listed editors on pieces, and one he did on an art heist in Europe was riveting) and I know several people who have worked with him over the years who recommend him highly. On the other hand, when I worked with him on a difficult investigative piece he was less than helpful. The initial draft had some underlying problems, and his feedback was tepid at best. He asked me to rewrite the story eight times (literally eight times) but never gave actionable feedback that would give the piece a path to being published. It seems to me that he speculates on stories by sending a reporter out into the field (often at their own expense) to see what they bring back. All the NYTm is out if the story doesn't work out is the 20% kill fee. This model exposes the freelance journalist to a fair amount of financial (and possibly physical) risk, but lets the NYT cherry pick the best pieces. While I'm sure that if a piece you pitch him works out perfectly that he is a good editor to work with, beware if there are any uncertainties in the reporting you are going to undertake.
Dean is meticulous about massaging the best work out of his writers; a reliable advocate for them to senior staff; equanimous even under a difficult close; and a keen eye for what his bosses want.
Dear: Dean Robinson
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