The always wonderful Margaret Sullivan on the axing of The New York Times‘s executive editor Jill Abramson.
Publishers, like owners of baseball teams, get to make these decisions – and they continually do. When editors and publishers disagree, when the tension gets unbearable, realpolitik prevails: It’s the editor who is gone, not the publisher.
But let’s take a moment to celebrate the short but meaningful reign of Ms. Abramson. A brilliant journalist, she “kept the paper straight,” which was one of her stated aims; there was no scandal on her watch. She moved the journalism forward into the digital realm – let’s allow the word “Snowfall,” like “Rosebud,” to say it all. She defended press rights and stood up for her reporters, most notably with China coverage, staying the course when the going got tough. And her staff won eight Pulitzers during her short tenure (itshould have been nine, in my view). And she wore her feminism on her sleeve in just the right way – not with overplaying stories about women’s issues, but with the determined promotion of qualified women into top roles. Her masthead was 50 percent women in recent months, a major change.
In an interview with Gotham magazine only weeks ago, she said one measure of her success as the first woman to lead the paper would be this: “When I leave, will there be several plausible female candidates to take my place?” Mr. Baquet will be assembling his own team in the next weeks and months. He has not just a couple of good internal female choices for top roles, but, remarkably, many.
I think the Times is a terrible newspaper, but the best one in existence. This is a much better account of her tenure than the rumor mongering at The New Yorker. How do people get so riled up about something that, at the end of the day, is nothing more than office gossip?