Jill Abramson, who has held the top newsroom job at the New York Times since 2011, was fired today.
Managing editor Dean Baquet has been named executive editor, effective immediately. He is the first African-American to hold that position.
The 60-year-old Abramson, the first female executive editor at the paper of record, said her tenure was marked by stories "holding powerful institutions accountable," including pieces on China, government secrecy or powerful figures and corporations. "I've loved my run at the Times," she said in a statement.
Publisher Arthur Sulzberger told staff that he made the change because he believes "that new leadership will improve some aspects of the management of the newsroom," adding it is "not about any sort of disagreement between the newsroom and the business side..."
Politico's Dylan Byers said Abramson's move to hire a new digital editor without consulting Baquet was a reason for the move, while The New Yorker's Ken Auletta reported that Abramson's investigation into her level of pay compared to other execs was a factor.
NPR media reporter David Folkenflik cited several reasons for the move, as well, including her demeanor and Sulzberg's aversion to Abramson's public profile.
Sulzberger in a May 15 memo to staff published by the nytimes.com denied reports that Abramson’s salary was an issue. “Compensation played no part whatsoever in my decision that Jill could not remain as executive editor,” he said. “Nor did any discussion about compensation. 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.”
As speculation flared as to whether Abramson was treated unfairly as a woman at the Times, Sulzberger issued a lengthy statement on Saturday, May 17, denying such a narrative. “Rather than accepting that this was a situation involving a specific individual who, as we all do, has strengths and weaknesses, a shallow and factually incorrect storyline has emerged,” he said. “I decided that Jill could no longer remain as executive editor for reasons having nothing to do with pay or gender. As publisher, my paramount duty is to ensure the continued quality and success of The New York Times. Jill is an outstanding journalist and editor, but with great regret, I concluded that her management of the newsroom was simply not working out.”
Sulzberger in announcing Abramson's departure on May 14 praised Baquet's credentials for the post. "He is an exceptional reporter and editor with impeccable news judgment who enjoys the confidence and support of his colleagues around the world and across the organization," said Sulzberger.
Baquet, 57, joined the Times in 2007 from the Los Angeles Times, where he was managing editor and editor of that paper. He has served as assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief of the NY Times.
Abramson was managing editor before she was elevated to the top slot in August 2011 to succeed Bill Keller. She is a veteran of the Wall Street Journal.
A press release from the Times did not offer a reason for the change.