Former investigative reporter Jill Abramson will become the first female executive editor in the nearly 160-year history of The New York Times in September, the newspaper announced Thursday.

Abramson, 57, is to succeed Bill Keller, who will continue to write for the daily as a columnist.

The Times' Washington bureau chief, Dean Baquet, will replace Abramson as managing editor, a post she has held since 2003.

"In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth," Abramson, a native New Yorker, said.

She joined The Times in 1997 after working at The Wall Street Journal as an investigative reporter and deputy bureau chief. Within three years, Abramson was heading The Times' bureau in Washington.

Keller asked her to accept the post of managing editor when he took charge of the paper in 2003 in the wake of a plagiarism scandal that led to the ouster of then-executive editor Howell Raines.

"Jill and Dean together is a powerful team," the 62-year-old Keller said in the story announcing he plans to step down. "Jill's been my partner in keeping The Times strong through years of tumult. At her right hand she will have someone who ran a great American newspaper, and ran it through tough times. That's a valuable skill to have."

Baquet, 54, was editor of The Los Angeles Times in 2005-2006.

While he acknowledged having "mixed emotions," about Keller's resignation, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. hailed the choice of Abramson as next executive editor.

"Without question, Jill is the best person to succeed Bill in the role of executive editor. An accomplished reporter and editor, Jill is the perfect choice to lead the next phase of The Times' evolution into a multiplatform news organization deeply committed to journalistic excellence," said Sulzberger, who is also chairman of The New York Times Company.