Jill Abramson, The New York Times newspaper’s first ever woman editor has reportedly been fired and replaced after only three years in office by the paper’s first ever African-American editor, Dean Baquet. Reports that appeared in media across the world today say that while Abramson traditionally would have kept her post for another five years, until she was 65, she has been booted due to a management issue.
According to a number of media reports, Dean Baquet’s appointment was “effective immediately.” Publisher and chairman, Arthur Sulzberger reportedly stated that the decision for Abramson to leave was hers, and that it was largely to do with her “management style” that many employees at the newspaper are said to have found “abrasive.”
Dean Baquet, who was in the running for executive editor in 2011 when Abramson clinched the position, is 57 and three years younger than the woman who has been his boss for three years. The two are believed to have had a stormy professional relationship, with insiders reportedly claiming that Baquet found Abramson stubborn and condescending, as well as rude and not at all easy to please. Reports also state that Abramson conflicted with the newspaper’s CEO Mark Thompson, specifically about the roles of business and editorial in terms of “new initiatives” undertaken by The New York Times.
It is understood that Sulzberger addressed journalists in the paper’s newsroom today, stating that “management in the newsroom” was the primary issue Jill Abramson was leaving. Insiders have maintained that they are shocked by the move. Whatever the truth, it appears that during her tenure, Abramson made many enemies in the newsroom.
According to a press release, Baquet, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was named executive editor today with immediate effect. The release quoted Sulzberger as saying that there was no other journalist in The New York Times who was “better qualified” to take on the position and responsibilities of executive editor of the paper. He said that Baquet was “an exceptional reporter and editor with impeccable news judgment” and that he enjoyed both the support and confidence of his colleagues in the organization and “around the world.”
Baquet was quoted in the press release as saying it was “an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country” that was better now than it was a generation ago. It was, he said, a newsroom that approached “the world with wonder and ambition every day.” This fact, he went on to say was what makes The New York Times “the greatest news operation in history.”
Sulzberger paid tribute to Jill Abramson saying that she had preserved and extended the “excellence of our news report” while she was executive editor. She had also inspired her colleagues, showing them how to “adjust their approach to how we deliver the news.”
Abramson, in turn, was quoted in the press release as saying how much she had loved her “run at The Times.” She said she valued the fact that she had been able to work with “the best journalists in the world,” blazing trails on digital frontiers and inventing “new forms of story-telling.” She said she was particularly proud that the newspaper’s masthead had become “half female for the first time” ever, and that so many “great women” were able to hold newsroom positions that were important.
Acknowledging the fact that Dean Baquet had partnered her during her tenure, Jill Abramson said she believed he would make a “great executive editor” in her footsteps. The fact that The New York Times has won a total of eight Pulitzer Prizes under Abramson’s leadership was not mentioned in the press release, but other reports have drawn attention to this and have labeled the fact that she appears to have been fired as “brutal.”
By Penny Swift