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How NYT reported its editor's ouster

REPLACED: Ms Abramson, 60, the first woman to run The New York Times, had been in the job since September 2011.


    May 16, 2014

    How NYT reported its editor's ouster

    Organisations usually go all coy whenever they talk about a leadership change. So what happens when a top newspaper like The New York Times sacks its editor? Quite simply, it pulls no punches in its report and doesn't even spare its own bosses. Some excerpts:

    THE New York Times (NYT) dismissed Jill Abramson as executive editor on Wednesday, replacing her with Dean Baquet.

    Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr, the publisher of the paper and the chairman of The New York Times Company, told a stunned newsroom that had been quickly assembled that he had made the decision because of "an issue with management in the newsroom".

    Ms Abramson, 60, had been in the job since September 2011. But people in the company briefed on the situation described serious tension in her relationship with Mr Sulzberger, who was concerned about complaints from employees that she was polarising and mercurial. She had also had clashes with Mr Baquet.

    In recent weeks, these people said, Mr Baquet had become angered over a decision by Ms Abramson to make a job offer to a senior editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, with a view to installing her alongside him in a co-managing editor position, without consulting him.

    It escalated the conflict between them and rose to the attention of Mr Sulzberger.

    Ms Abramson had recently engaged a consultant to help her with her management style. Mr Sulzberger nevertheless made the decision earlier this month to dismiss her, and last Thursday he informed Mr Baquet of his promotion, according to the people briefed on the situation.

    Mr Baquet becomes the first African-American to serve as NYT's executive editor.

    Ms Abramson's hiring also made history - she was the first woman to run the newspaper.

    Her dismissal, after less than three years in the job, was met with disappointment by some women in the newsroom, and could be perceived as a step backward in the cause of female leadership.

    Jane Mayer, a journalist at The New Yorker and a friend of Ms Abramson, said: "I know that Jill 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."

    The upheaval came in a crucial year for NYT, which had shed assets like The Boston Globe and, and built a strategy around the newspaper that it hoped would spur growth.

    The NYT recently began a new subscription iPhone app, NYT Now, and planned to start specific cooking and opinion products.

    Against this backdrop, Mr Sulzberger grew more focused on NYT itself, rather than a broader portfolio of media properties.

    Because of that, several executives said, it was essential that he have a good working relationship with the executive editor.

    In accepting the job, Mr Baquet, 57, made several promises to the staff in the newsroom.

    "I will listen hard, I will be hands on, I will be engaged. I'll walk the room," he said.

    The NYT won eight Pulitzer Prizes under Ms Abramson, and she won praise for journalistic efforts in print and on the Web.

    But as a leader of the newsroom, she was accused by some of divisiveness and criticised for several of her personnel choices, in particular the appointment of several major department heads who did not last long in their jobs.

    With Mr Sulzberger more closely monitoring her stewardship, tensions between Ms Abramson and Mr Baquet escalated.

    In one publicised incident, Mr Baquet angrily slammed his hand against a wall in the newsroom.

    He had been under consideration for the lead job when Ms Abramson was selected and, according to people familiar with his thinking, he was growing frustrated working with her.

    An annual meeting for senior executives at the newspaper had been planned for yesterday and today.

    Ms Abramson was scheduled to be one of its leaders and to deliver a talk yesterday morning, titled "Our Evolving Newsroom". The meeting was cancelled.