New York Times fires Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson “has been dismissed” from her post as executive editor of The New York Times, the Times reported Wednesday. Dean Baquet will be the new executive editor.

Abramson in 2010. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

In its press release, the New York Times Co. quoted Abramson as saying ” I thank [Publisher] Arthur [Sulzberger Jr.], who has been a steadfast protector of our journalism, for the chance to serve.”.

Ravi Somaiya and David Carr report in the Times that Sulzberger told staffers he made the change because of “an issue with management in the newsroom.” Abramson will not stay on at the paper in any capacity, a Times spokesperson told Poynter in an email.

In The New Yorker Ken Auletta reported Sulzberger fired Abramson Friday, an event he writes was precipitated by her reaction to the discovery that her predecessor, Bill Keller, had been paid more:

“She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.

Somaiya and Carr report that Baquet “had become angered over a decision by Ms. Abramson to try to hire an editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, and install her alongside Mr. Baquet in a co-managing editor position without consulting him.” (Gibson tells the Guardian: “The New York Times talked to me about the role of joint managing editor, but I said no.”)

NPR media reporter David Folkenflik wrote on Twitter that he had confirmed “Abramson did indeed challenge corporate brass over what she saw as unequal pay.”

As seems to be the case with this story, this point becomes less clear the more light is shone upon it. Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Dylan Byers in Politico that “Jill’s total compensation as executive editor was not less than Bill Keller’s, so [Auletta's account] is just incorrect.” But J.K. Trotter notes in Gawker that Murphy told Business Insider Abramson’s compensation “was not meaningfully less” than Keller’s. Murphy told Trotter the two salaries were “directly comparable” but declined to provide figures.

In his account of a meeting at which top editors were informed of the change, Joe Pompeo reports that “National editor Alison Mithchell suggested that Abramson’s firing wouldn’t sit well with a broad swath of female Times journalists who saw her as a role model.” Pompeo writes his source characterized Sulzberger’s response: “When women get to top management positions, they are sometimes fired, just as men are.”

Abramson became the Times’ executive editor in 2011. She is five years away from being 65, the age at which Times executive editors traditionally must retire. On Monday Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan noted that under Abramson, “not only is the top editor a woman – the first — but many department heads and section editors are, too.”

Baquet will be newspaper’s first African American top editor. Baquet is “an exceptional reporter and editor with impeccable news judgment who enjoys the confidence and support of his colleagues around the world and across the organization,” Sulzberger said in a statement.

Here’s Sulzberger’s memo to staff:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to announce a leadership change in the newsroom. Effective today, Dean Baquet will become our new executive editor, succeeding Jill Abramson.

This appointment comes at a time when the newsroom is about to embark on a significant effort to transition more fully to a digital-first reality and where, across the organization, we are all learning to adapt to the rapid pace of change in our business.

We owe Jill an enormous debt of gratitude for positioning the newsroom to succeed on both of these critical counts and of course, for preserving and extending the level of our journalistic excellence and innovation. She’s laid a great foundation on which I fully expect Dean and his colleagues will build.

As those of you who know Dean will understand, he is uniquely suited to this role. He is a proven manager, both here at The Times and elsewhere. He is also a consummate journalist whose reputation as a fierce advocate for his reporters and editors is well-deserved. And importantly, he is an enthusiastic supporter of our push toward further creativity in how we approach the digital expression of our journalism.

I know you will join me, Mark and the rest of the senior leadership team in wishing Jill the best and congratulating Dean on his appointment.

Arthur

Some reactions:

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  • simonzee1

    Jill Abramson is being replaced with a Chicago man who looks like he is the perfect man to keep the readership of the New York Times informed.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/05/15/business/media/jill-abramson-being-replaced-as-top-editor-at-times.html?referrer=

    Is he a strategic placement from Washington who knows how things operated there. His history shows both a close association to Washington and an alledged cover-up?

    He may also have a “Bachelor of Benghazi Coverup” qualification like others have as, “In 2006, ABC News reported that Baquet killed a story about NSA wiretaps of Americans.” Definitely not Snowdens man…more like Obama’s man and a strategic placement for the intellectual class who are abandoning Obama over integrity issues.

    The question for the intelligensia is how is this shift at the NYT any different from what the E.U in Brussels is doing to treat young voters as idiots. Look at the article below and you will be shocked beyond belief. In this case I could conceed that governments treat most people like idiots but some are treated as greater idiots than others.

    The reality is that the Democrats are in damage control and all these intrusions by the Obama administration into the operations of the NSA and IRS and FCC and FEC need a man that the ABC claimed has a history of covering up.

    The way governments are going they will be offering, “Degrees in Deceit” as a prerequisite for office.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2627473/Storm-smutty-cartoon-advert-designed-young-Danes-vote-uses-naked-women-topless-man-couple-having-sex.html?ico=worldnews%5Eheadlines

  • ljatlanta

    Browsing the comments under Dylan Byer’s Politico article was fun. It consisted of charges that Abramson’s firing was a manifestation of a “War on Women”, carried out by either Democrats or Republicans, depending on the inclinations of the commenter. Politico should take a page from the NYT’s book, and start moderating their comments.

    As for the possibility that sexism was involved in her firing, it can’t be ruled out entirely, but at the moment I haven’t seen anything of substance regarding a reason for the firing, or even any decent leaked gossip.

    Larry Felton Johnson