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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Abramson Axed at 'NYT'

Friday updates:  NYT spokeswoman demands an Auletta correction on key legal issue--which he seems to reject in new piece.

Thursday updates:    For those who know nothing about why Jill Abramson was fired--but opined with views that it simply had to be about pay disparity or that she was judged in sexist manner as too "pushy"--please don't let the emerging facts get in your way.  As latest example, see the paper's ultra-independent public editor Margaret Sullivan's column today.  She hails Abramson in many respects but hits her on others, as a close observer (who has office at the paper), and  rejects the meme about pay and sexism as chief cause and says the paper's own story by David Carr has told it most accurately. 

And:  Ken Auletta, who started the Jill-was-fired-over-pay-disparity meme--because others falsely focused on just one angle in his New Yorker piece--clarified this morning: No, there were "clearly" other reasons as well.  And "management issues" from the start.   Which should be obvious.   Also the Times is flatly rejecting Auletta's initial reporting, claiming she was paid as much or more than predecessors.  We'll see how that plays out.

UPDATE #3  NYT piece tonight places emphasis on conflict over Abramson trying to hire a co-managing ed. without telling managing ed Dean Baquet.  Also, she and the Times reached a settlement before her ouster so: no lawsuits.  Read between the lines:  Dean Baquet cites former revered  editor at L.A. Times who told him “that great editors can also be humane editors.”

UPDATES #2Final bit in this piece makes one wonder if Baquet had another good job offer and Sulzberger, who may have felt he'd ease Abramson out over time, decided to move quickly.  But Ken Auletta at The New Yorker now posts several other reasons, from pay disparity to digital disputes. Still, folks on Twitter focused on the pay claims as if that was only reason cited by Auletta. And Times has now disputed...Love people saying Abramson got fired w/ less dignity than Judy Miller--when Abramson was a Miller enabler.

UPDATES:  Jeff Zeleny of ABC tweets:  "Jill's departure was forced by Arthur Sulzberger, who called it 'a management issue in the newsroom,'  he told newsroom."  A recent profile of her that cited just such complaints ("arrogant," "overly combative" etc.) was denounced by some--not yours truly, based on what I'd heard--prematurely as "sexist."  I should also note that she's too often gotten a pass on her role as Washington bureau chief at the paper during the run-up to the Iraq war when she supervised Judy Miller and others.  She admitted her own failures on that in passing here as "egregious." No kidding. I'm also curious about her role, as #2 at the paper, in spiking that James Risen NSA spying scoop in 2004 (see my piece on Bill Keller here).

Jill Abramson, first first female top editor at the NYT, announced her exit today--and she will be replaced by Dean Baquet, who becomes the paper's first African-American chief editor.  She has been much-criticized within the building for some time so it's fascinating, and unusual, for the Times itself to say that her reasons for leaving are "unclear."  Stay tuned.    

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.

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