Latest News & Current Events

What's the story behind New York Times sacking Jill Abramson

Former  New York Times top editor Jill Abramson loved the "story behind the story." Now the media world is alight with speculation about what really caused her ouster.

In 2011 when Bill Keller stepped down, the publisher of the Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., promoted Abramson to the executive editor role. Now Sulzberger has decided to replace Abramson with her deputy, Dean Baquet.

In its front page news story about Abramson's departure the Times described "serious tension in her relationship with Mr. Sulzberger, who was concerned about complaints from employees that she was polarizing and mercurial. She had also had clashes with Mr. Baquet."One significant clash between Baquet and his boss involved Abramson's plan to hire Guardian US editor in chief Janine Gibson as co-managing editor.

The Times reported that Baquet, who was then being pursued by another prospective employer, Bloomberg News, was angered that Abramson didn't consult him about Gibson.

Another theory -- rejected by the Times -- has centered on issues of gender equality. Abramson was the first female executive editor in the Times' history. Her replacment  Dean Baquet  now becomes the first African American to hold the position.

 Ken Auletta of the New Yorker, a close observer of the Times, reported that he was told Abramson had recently discovered her pay and her pension benefits were "considerably less" than Keller's had been.Auletta wrote: "'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."

While both sides have signed a nondisparagement agreement Sulzberger  sent an internal memo to Times staffers to damp down the accusations of sexism and unequal pay. He said that in 2013, Abramson's "total compensation package was more than 10% higher than that of her predecessor," Keller, in his last full year as editor. "Compensation played no part whatsoever in my decision that Jill could not remain as executive editor," Sulzberger wrote. "Nor did any discussion about compensation. The reason -- the only reason -- for that decision was concerns I had about some aspects of Jill's management of our newsroom, which I had previously made clear to her, both face-to-face and in my annual assessment."

News media analyst Ken Doctor said the leadership change "is more attributable to personality and old-fashioned management style than to the company's strategic future."

Unlikely that the NYT will have more on "the story behind this story" on it's front page anytime soon.

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