Jill Abramson's departure from New York Times may have been over

Jill Abramson's departure from New York Times may have been over equal pay

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The media world was left stunned on Wednesday afternoon when the New York Times announced that executive editor Jill Abramson was leaving and that she would be replaced by Dean Baquet. Since then, there has been wild speculation about whatlead to Abramson’s firing, with some suggesting it may have been over pay.

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Abramson was the first woman to hold the position and was only named executive editor in September 2011. But, even though she helped the Times grow online, she was fired on Wednesday afternoon. New York Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. surprised the staff by making the announcement during a meeting at around 2:30 p.m.

There was no reason announced immediately, but it was clear that Abramson was fired. The New Yorker was among the first sites to report that it may have been because Abramson learned that her predecessor, Bill Keller, received higher pay and better pension benefits. An anonymous source for the New Yorker said that she “confronted” the top executives.

Now, this is where it gets a bit confusing. A Times spokeswoman told the New Yorker that Abramson’s pay “was directly comparable to Bill Keller’s,” but, as Gawker pointed out, the Times gave a different statement to Business Insider.

“Jill's total compensation as executive editor was not meaningfully less than Bill Keller's, so that is just incorrect,” spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said. “Her pension benefit, like all Times employees, is based on her years of service and compensation. The pension benefit was frozen in 2009.”

Murphy then gave Gawker another statement, this one reading, “There is no discrepancy. Jill’s compensation was directly comparable to Bill’s during their times as executive editor.”

Still, there appears to be no question that Abramson and Sulzberger clashed. The Times reports that Sulzberger heard complaints from employees that she was polarizing. She also apparently didn’t agree with Bacquet, as she was looking to hire Janine Gibson from The Guardian to work alongside him.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a generation ago, one that approaches the world with wonder and ambition every day,” Baquet said in a statement.