May 16, 2014

The New York Post put an Instagram photo by Jill Abramson’s daughter on its front page Friday.

Thursday night Ken Auletta followed his earlier report on Abramson’s firing with an account of the numbers behind a reported compensation dispute between her and The New York Times:

Let’s look at some numbers I’ve been given: As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to [former Executive Editor Bill] Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000. She learned that her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes. She also learned that her salary as Washington bureau chief, from 2000 to 2003, was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her successor in that position, Phil Taubman. (Murphy would say only that Abramson’s compensation was “broadly comparable” to that of Taubman and Geddes.)

Abramson hired a lawyer when she learned of the discrepancy, Auletta reports, and he says Murphy “argued that there was no real compensation gap, but conceded to me that ‘this incident was a contributing factor’ to the firing of Abramson, because ‘it was part of a pattern.'”

Murphy disputed she’d conceded the point about the lawyer.

Perhaps more intriguing than the salary numbers in Auletta’s report is the question of when exactly the Times soured on Abramson’s leadership. Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson emailed her on April 28 after speaking to Guardian U.S. Editor-in-Chief Janine Gibson, who Abramson wanted to hire: “She reveres you and will need convincing that you’re going to sign up for some more years as Editor,” Thompson wrote. “I told her I was doing my best to persuade you that you should!”

Also on Thursday evening, The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi reported the Post “tried to hire her for a senior editing job while she ran the Times’ Washington bureau between 2000 and 2003.” She “eventually declined the offer.”

And back at the Times, new Executive Editor Dean Baquet “held a conference call with foreign correspondents and a meeting with the national desk to answer their questions about the change,” Ravi Somaiya and Leslie Kaufman report.

The deputy managing editor for personnel issues, Janet Elder, called a meeting of senior female managers to solicit their feedback and also assure them that Ms. Abramson had received compensation comparable with her predecessors.

It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors,” Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote in a memo to staffers yesterday.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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