The favorite parlor game right now among the chinstrokerati is, Who Killed Jill Abramson?

Representative sample, via Forbes:


Did the NY Times Fire Jill Abramson For Being ‘Bossy’?

Jill Abramson was fired from her post as executive editor of The New York Times. In her former position, she was among the top 20 most powerful women in the world. Abramson was succeeded by managing editor,Dean Baquet, according to an announcement today by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Speculation is rampant on what caused her ousting. Among the ensuing media maelstrom, one by The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta is most compelling.

“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,” Auletta writes.  If true, Abramson’s dismissal ties neatly with another well-publicized criticism against her: She’s pushy. Last July, Newsweek wrote a profile on her, “Good Jill, Bad Jill,” noting her often “high-handed, impatient…and obstinate” nature. Sulzberger was quoted as calling Abramson “brusque” in that feature – one of the kinder words she’s been called in the media.


Other accounts have Abramson being ousted because she “alienated CEO Mark Thompson, who was pushing a video-heavy strategy for the Times‘ digital push, something Abramson feared would be a diversion for the paper.”

But here’s the one the hardtracking staff favors (via MediaPost).


[S]ome observers wondered whether Abramson was forced out for disagreeing with the NYT’s implementation of native advertising, a key part of its business strategy as it seeks to replace declining print ad revenues.

In May 2013, Abramson told the Wired Business Conference: “What I worry about is… leaving confusion in readers’ minds about where the content comes from, and purposefully making advertising look like a news story. I think that some of what is being done with native advertising does confuse a little too much.”


To be fair, the MediaPost piece says, “in his remarks to the newsroom [New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.] was quoted as saying the rupture was ‘not about any sort of disagreement between the newsroom and the business side.'”



John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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