Here’s the first of what will be many bits of anecdotal evidence submitted in an effort to decipher the abrupt exit of New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson. It comes from a New Yorker item by Ken Auletta:
Several weeks ago, I’m told, 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.
“She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.
Another source however told Auletta that the salary gap had been closed,* leaving only a pension disparity tied to the pair’s differing lengths of NYT service.
Two other editors also voiced their concerns, sources with knowledge of the meeting told Capital. National editor Alison Mitchell suggested that Abramson’s firing wouldn’t sit well with a broad swath of female Times journalists who saw her as a role model. Assistant managing editor Susan Chira seconded that notion.
Our source who was in the room characterized Sulzberger’s response thusly: When women get to top management positions, they are sometimes fired, just as men are.
Those are ominous, heat-of-the-moment sentiments expressed by Mitchell and Chira. At a kind that will likely, in say three or six months, generate one or more long-form revisits.
*Update (8:25 p.m.):
A spokesperson for the New York Times has essentially agreed with that second Auletta source, telling Politico’s Dylan Byers that Abramson’s “total compensation was not less than Bill Keller’s.”
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