NY Times Publisher Issues Statement: Jill Abramson Firing Was Due to Her Arrogance and Mistreatment of Staff, Not Pay

Via Mediaite, we learned New York Times publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr. issued a new statement Saturday on the controversy over the dumping of executive editor Jill Abramson. He said the issue wasn’t pay, but Abramson’s management style causing a loss of “the support of her masthead colleagues.”

“Equal pay for women is an important issue in our country — one that The New York Times often covers,” Mr. Sulzberger wrote. “But it doesn’t help to advance the goal of pay equality to cite the case of a female executive whose compensation was not in fact unequal.”

The memo continued:

During her tenure, I heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues. I discussed these issues with Jill herself several times and warned her that, unless they were addressed, she risked losing the trust of both masthead and newsroom. She acknowledged that there were issues and agreed to try to overcome them. We all wanted her to succeed. It became clear, however, that the gap was too big to bridge and ultimately I concluded that she had lost the support of her masthead colleagues and could not win it back.

Since my announcement on Wednesday I have had many opportunities to talk to and hear reactions from my colleagues in the newsroom. While surprised by the timing, they understood the decision and the reasons I had to make it.

We are very proud of our record of gender equality at The New York Times. Many of our key leaders – both in the newsroom and on the business side – are women. So too are many of our rising stars. They do not look for special treatment, but expect to be treated with the same respect as their male colleagues. For that reason they want to be judged fairly and objectively on their performance. That is what happened in the case of Jill.

Equality is at the core of our beliefs at The Times. It will always be.

When asked about “a nondisparagement clause in Ms. Abramson’s termination agreement,” a spokeswoman for The New York Times said only, “We’re comfortable with the statement.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis