Updated from 11:34 a.m. EDT

New York Times ( NYT) Thursday announced the resignations of Howell Raines, executive editor, and Gerald M. Boyd, managing editor. The two were widely blamed for a reporting scandal that damaged the company's flagship newspaper.

Joseph Lelyveld, former executive editor of The New York Times, has been named interim executive editor. No one will be named interim managing editor.

"Howell and Gerald have tendered their resignations, and I have accepted them with sadness based on what we believe is best for the Times," Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the paper and chairman of the company said in a press release. "They have made enormous contributions during their tenure, including an extraordinary seven Pulitzer Prizes in 2002 and another this year. I appreciate all of their efforts in continuing the legacy of our great newspaper."

Some media watchers had speculated that changes could be coming at the top of the newspaper in the wake of a scandal involving former reporter Jayson Blair, who fabricated information in dozens of articles published under his byline in the Times in recent years.

"I think this was a necessary move," says Ari L. Goldman, interim associate dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former Times religion reporter.

In May, Raines told newsroom staff members that he accepted the blame for a breakdown of communications and oversight that allowed Blair to get away with repeated stories containing erroneous information, according to coverage of the gathering in the Times.

At the meeting last month, Raines is said to have spent much of the time responding to staffers' complaints and questions about his management style. He said at the time that he had no plans to resign, and Sulzberger said then that he wouldn't accept the resignation even if it was offered.

The public self-examination in the wake of Jayson Blair's sins -- notably, the paper's own extensive coverage of Blair's fabrications, errors and appropriations of others' work -- "was an important move on the part of the Times," Goldman says.

But, suggests Goldman, the examination caused its own problems. "It also exposed some reporting and managerial failures at the paper," he says. "Even loyal readers began to say, 'What am I getting here? And can I believe what I'm reading?'"

Furthermore, says Goldman, "Because The New York Times is such an icon, the damage was not limited to the Times. It really hurt the profession."

Yet, says Goldman, "The Times is a great institution. I think it will recover. ... I can't say how much time it will take to restore public confidence in the paper."

Goldman says he thinks the paper has been "very self-reflective and self-critical" in recent days, as indicated not only by the number of corrections the paper has been running, but also by the nature of letters to the editor it has been publishing.

Many of these letters, he says, address not simply questions of fact but also the basis of a story and the reporter's approach to it. "To my knowledge, they didn't run letters like that before," says Goldman.

Shares of New York Times were down 94 cents, or 2%, to $46.15 in recent trading.

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