Posted on | May 16, 2014 | 26 Comments
Sulzberger and Abramson had a fraught relationship almost from the start of her tenure as executive editor, nearly three years ago. He saw her as difficult, high-handed, and lacking in finesse in her management of people at the paper. She, in turn, was increasingly resentful of his intrusions into her command of editorial operations, and of his increasingly close relationship with Mark Thompson, the company’s C.E.O., who came from England and the BBC to run the business side.
It is always hard to say what causes a final break—a firing, a divorce—but, clearly, a last straw came a few weeks ago, when Abramson, who made little secret of her displeasure with Sulzberger, decided to hire a lawyer to complain that her salary was not equal to that of her predecessor, Bill Keller. She had also been told by reliable sources at the paper that, as managing editor, she had once earned less than the managing editor of news operations, John Geddes. Abramson’s attempt to raise the salary issue at a time when tempers were already frayed seemed wrongheaded to Sulzberger and Thompson, both on its merits and in terms of her approach. Bringing in a lawyer, in particular, seems to have struck them as especially combative. Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times, 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. . . .
Another episode that added to the characterization of Abramson as hard to deal with came after a decision was made to hire a second managing editor to oversee the Times’ digital endeavors. Abramson led that hiring effort. The Times, in its story on Abramson’s dismissal, said that Abramson had offered the job to Janine Gibson, the editor of Guardian U.S., “without consulting” Dean Baquet, then the managing editor and now Abramson’s successor. This implies that Abramson was operating more or less in a vacuum, without consistent consultations with her colleagues, particularly Baquet. Gibson met separately with Sulzberger and Thompson on May 5th, and had lunch with Baquet that same day. What Baquet did not know, until Gibson herself mentioned it to him at lunch, I’m told, is that she was offered a managing-editor job comparable to his own. . . .
Abramson offended the patriarchy! The New York Times is sexist! Has Amanda Marcotte reacted to this news yet?
UPDATE: Haven’t found Marcotte’s reaction yet, but the headline at the feminist blog Jezebel is: “Jill Abramson and Those Goddamn Pushy Female Bosses”:
Abramson had been a staunch advocate for women at the Times, but it was clear that gender imbalance remained an issue at the paper , and not only on the masthead. In a piece about the gap in byline counts this week, Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan lamented that, “After three decades in journalism, I find it hard to believe that — while things have changed radically in some ways — there’s still such a gender imbalance.”
Yeah, baby! Patriarchy wins again!