The news of New York Times editor Jill Abramson’s abrupt dismissal caught the Internet off guard on Wednesday afternoon, with no indication—even from the Times itself—as to why Abramson had been let go. Now reports are trickling in that the sudden firing was prompted by Abramson’s complaints over what she saw as unequal pay compared with her male predecessor Bill Keller. From The New Yorker:
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. … [T]o women at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories. Whether Abramson was right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy.
David Folkenflik, NPR’s media correspondent, also stated on Twitter that he has “independently confirmed that Abramson did indeed challenge corporate brass over what she saw as unequal pay.”* And two female Times employees—national editor Alison Mitchell and assistant managing editor Susan Chira—warned that Abramson’s dismissal would be particularly galling for the many women at the Times who viewed her as a role model.
Reports of conflict between Abramson, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., and chief executive officer Mark Thompson were common during Abramson’s brief tenure. But until the news of Abramson’s dismissal broke, no one outside the Times inner circle had an inkling of just how deep the trouble ran.
Abramson will be replaced by Dean Baquet, previously the Times’ managing editor, who will be the newspaper’s first ever black executive editor.
*Correction, May 14, 2014: This post originally misspelled David Folkenflik’s last name.