The publisher of the New York Times has squashed speculation that departed executive editor Jill Abramson was paid less than her male predecessors, or that disputes over money might have contributed to her ouster.
In a memo sent to employees on Thursday, and obtained by The Globe and Mail, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. sought to “set the record straight” about what he calls “misinformation surrounding Abramson’s dismissal” a day earlier.
The change in leadership announced on Wednesday, which elevates managing editor Dean Baquet to top job, came as a shock to many employees and set off a flurry of speculation about what had gone awry. But in his memo, Mr. Sulzberger stressed that, “Compensation played no part whatsoever in my decision that Jill could not remain as executive editor,” as The New Yorker reported.
“It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors,” Mr. Sulzberger wrote. “Her pay is comparable to that of earlier executive editors. In fact, in 2013, her last full year in the role, her total compensation package was more than 10% higher than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, in his last full year as Executive Editor, which was 2010.”
Mr. Sulzberger also said Ms. Abramson’s pension was calculated based on her years of service through a formula “applied without any gender bias.”
Ms. Abramson lasted little more than two and a half years as the newspaper’s first female editor. Some had long regarded her as having a difficult, prickly demeanour, and some people familiar with the situation say her personality never fit comfortably with Mr. Sulzberger’s. What is clear was that a clash over management style forced the issue.
“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,” Mr. Sulzberger says in his memo.
Ms. Abramson, 60, helped steer the evolution of the paper’s digital products, with some success. An accomplished journalist who came to the Times in 1997 from the Wall Street Journal, she was also seen as a champion of hard-hitting journalism, and the Times won eight Pulitzer Prizes under her editorship.
She is succeeded by Mr. Baquet, 57, himself a former Pulitzer Prize winner and the first African-American executive editor at the newspaper.
With a report from Bloomberg.