On Wednesday afternoon the media world was shocked to learn that The New York Times had abruptly fired Executive Editor Jill Abramson and replaced her with Managing Editor Dean Baquet. Abramson was a 17-year Times veteran, and the first woman to ever to hold the top editing spot when she took over for Bill Keller in 2011. (Baquet will be the first African-American to be executive editor.)
When publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. made the announcement in a staff-wide meeting, his only reason given was that it was "an issue with management in the newsroom," Sulzberger said, but not a reflection of the quality of Abramson work, or the paper under leadership. He also added that it was not due to any conflicts between the business side of the paper, and the editorial side.
Yet Abramson herself was not in attendance at the meeting and it was clear, both from her statements and Sulzberger's, that the decision to leave was not voluntary and she would not be participating in any transition. (Her name has already been removed from the online masthead.)
It didn't take long for New York's plugged in media reporters to hash out the reasons behind Abramson's abrupt exit. The relationship between Abramson and Sulzberger had been deteriorating over the past few months, according to reports from The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta, NPR’s David Folkenflik, and Capital New York’s Joe Pompeo, three of the most reliable Times whisperers in the business. Previous profiles of Abramson have suggested she was "brusque" and "pushy" and not well liked in the newsroom, but her split with upper management appears to have hinged, at least in part, on a pay dispute.