The New York Times announced today that Executive Editor Jill Abramson is “unexpectedly” leaving the position. She’ll be replaced by her deputy editor, Dean Baquet. Abramson had been the first female executive editor, and took over the post in 2011. Baquet will now be the first African American executive editor.
Abramson’s tenure has been marked by highs and lows, from the huge success of the multimedia “Snow Fall” project in 2012, to gossipy exposés about her supposed difficulty controlling the newsroom.
She said in a statement that she’d loved her time there and pointed to her appointment of several women in senior editor positions as a major achievement. As of yet, details are scarce, but the Times referring to it as “unexpected” in their own article indicates a certain amount of surprise on the part of staffers. Buzzfeed reported that a Times spokeswoman said Abramson wouldn’t stay for the transition or continue to be involved with the paper in any capacity.
UPDATE: In a blog post for the New Yorker, Ken Auletta reports that part of the reason Abramson was let go was her recent request for a higher salary:
Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “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.
The post goes on to point out that Abramson had been at the Times for “many fewer years” than Keller, which may have influenced the pay discrepancy. She had also had a few arguments with the more corporate side of the publication over the intrusion of native advertising into editorial content, and she and Baquet had had issues with her hiring a deputy for Baquet without consulting him first, both of which fed the notion that she could be too brusque in her dealings with staff. Apparently, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the paper’s publisher, let her know on Friday that they had to make a change, and she opted not to pretend that her leaving was voluntary.