Not a good day in the newsroom now is it? Ever heard the expression “Karma is a b****?” Hey, it’s an article you know I can’t write that out, you get the point. Well, what’s worse than tension being so thick in the newsroom that you can cut it with a knife? Oh yeah, getting fired over it!
The New York Times is known for its amazing and thorough reporting. Well, now they are also known for a little heated side drama in the newsroom. On Wednesday, the world renowned newspaper decided to dismiss Jill Abramson as executive editor and replace her with managing editor, Dean Baquet.
Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the paper and the chairman of The New York Times Company, can be accredited to the rapid change in management. He told a stunned newsroom that the decision was a result of “an issue with management in the newsroom.”
Abramson, 60, has only been in the executive editor position since 2011. People in the company briefed on the situation, described the immense tension between Abramson and Sulzberger. The biggest problem between the two had been that Sulzberger was concerned with employee complaints that Abramson was “polarizing and mercurial.”
Abramson also had recent clashes with Baquet over the managing editor position. Abramson wanted to offer the position to senior editor of The Guardian, Janine Gibson. By offering the position to Gibson, she was going to make Baquet co-managing editor without even consulting him. That decision escalated the conflict between the two immensely.
Abramson recently brought on a consultant to help her with her managing style. Regardless of those last minute efforts, Sulzberger made the decision earlier this month to terminate her. On Thursday, Sulzberger informed Baquet of his promotion.
Abramson’s hiring once made history; she became the first woman in history to run the newspaper. Her termination from the newspaper was met with disappointment. Many women in the newsroom view Abramson’s termination as a step backward in the cause of female leadership at The New York Times or in the industry in general. Now with Baquet taking over the position, he is making history. Baquet is the first African-American man in the executive editor position.
A friend and journalist for The New Yorker commented on Abramson’s termination, “I know that Jill cares passionately about great journalism and The New York Times. She works incredibly hard, holds everyone including herself to the highest standards, and is a forceful and fearless advocate. Not everyone is going to like that, but it’s what makes her one of the most talented journalists of our times.”
Upon accepting the job, Baquet made several promises to the newsroom, “I will listen hard, I will be hands on, and I will be engaged. I’ll walk the room,” he said. “That’s the only way I know how to edit.” He also thanked an absent Abramson for teaching “the value of great ambition.” He added that John Carroll, whom he worked for at The Los Angeles Times, “Told me that great editors can also be humane editors.”