A former Detroit News editor is the leading candidate in Harvard's nine-month search for a new head for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, industry sources said this week. But the future of the candidate, Robert Giles, may be imperiled by his controversial role in an ongoing five-year long strike at the News.
Giles, who was 66 in May, confirmed that he is a candidate for the position of curator, but would not say whether President Neil L. Rudenstine has made an offer.
"That's Harvard's decision to announce," he said. "I'm still having conversations with them."
Some of his former employees at the News--including journalists Allan Lengel, Robert Ourlian, Kathleen Desmet and several others--have contacted the University to express their opposition to Giles' candidacy because of his anti-union stance in the Detriot strike and his ties to Gannett, a newspaper publishing group that they accuse of nearly ruining the News.
University officials refused to say when a decision would be made, but in an interview on Wednesday afternoon, Giles said he would be able to talk to the press within one or two days, once the University has made an announcement.
Jackie O'Neil, Staff Director for Rudenstine, would not confirm or deny that Giles is under consideration for the post.
The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Roy Gutman of Newsday, previously mentioned as another leading candidate for the post, said he was no longer in the running.