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Abramson Breaks Glass Ceiling (On the Way Down)

 

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KARL D. writes:

I find nothing more entertaining than when liberals eat each other for lunch. I just sit back and smile. We are now finding out more as to why Jill Abramson was fired from her job as editor of The New York Times. From the gist of it it seems it was mostly due to all the faux testosterone that Abramson was throwing around. Something almost all female high flying execs do. At the same time she was pulling out the feminist big guns to complain about her pay package compared to the last editor who was (gasp) a male. She has been replaced with the first black editor of The New York Times. So all the liberal stars are back in alignment. Yet there is still a big stink in feminist land about her firing. I suppose in the prevailing view Abramson should have had the job for life, simply because she is a woman. Above is a photo of Abramson that her daughter uploaded in her support after she was fired. Kinda says it all doesn’t it?

— Comments —

Laura writes:

Janet Robinson, former CEO of the Times, made $4.3 million in 2010. If women at the Times make less, they still do well. Abramson was paid $475,000 when she started as executive editor in 2011.

Dan R. writes:

What a poseur! Sixty years old and clearly out of shape, the scene comes off more as caricature. I guess the tattoo is supposed to make her mean. Yes, as Karl D. notes, the photo “kinda says it all.”

Philoscribe writes:

One doesn’t have to be a feminist or liberal to see the shoddy treatment and double standard Jill Abramson received at the hands of Mr. Sulzberger. I accept the explanation Mr. Sulzberger cited: She alienated staff with her imperious and aloof management style. To which I say: Oh poor babies! True, she wasn’t a picnic to work for, but then neither was Abe Rosenthal or Max Frankel — indeed, they were SOBs to the core. Top newspaper editors are rarely “nice” people. Like Roman emperors, the successful ones are ruthlessly efficient and driven. Newsrooms can’t be managed as democracies. As for the photo her daughter posted, it seems to me more like it was making a sly joke out of her mother being treated as a “punching bag” — which she surely was — than proclaiming her masculine prowess.

Rather, the focus should be on Mr. Sulzberger. He’s down two for three editors during his leadership of the company. Not a good track record – and this from an executive who is known to be a devout reader of management books.

Laura writes:

So you think that she was a good editor and Sulzberger fired her, against the best interests of the paper, because she was a woman?

I don’t know the details of her problems with employees. Editors that alienate good employees are not good editors. I have personally known some top newspaper editors who commanded the admiration of their best employees.

If the photo was meant to show she was a punching bag, why is she depicted as a fighter? Whatever the reasoning, it’s, um, not a flattering photo and I can’t say I am drawn to a woman who is willing to wear a gothic tank top and tattoo.

Philoscribe writes:

So you think that she was a good editor and Sulzberger fired her, against the best interests of the paper, because she was a woman?

The proof of whether she was a good editor is evident in the quality of the journalism the Times produced during her tenure, which even her detractors acknowledge was superior.

I don’t know the details of her problems with employees. Editors that alienate good employees are not good editors. I have personally known some top newspaper editors who commanded the admiration of their best employees.

Admiration is not the same thing as commanding leadership. Some of the best employees didn’t admire her — and some of the best did. She wasn’t an editor who was a “friend” of staff. Newsrooms — an assortment of unruly and independent types by nature — don’t need a friend in an editor. They need an advocate for their work and someone who won’t back away from challenging all the forces, both internal and external, that rain down to undermine reporting every day. In that regard, Abramson was exemplary and wholly admirable.

If the photo was meant to show she was a punching bag, why is she depicted as a fighter? Whatever the reasoning, it’s, um, not a flattering photo and I can’t say I am drawn to a woman who is willing to wear a gothic tank top and tattoo.

It depicts her as a fighter, yes. But the subtext is: punching bag. That’s the irony. Whether it’s a flattering photo or not is beside the point.

Did Abramson do everything right? No. She was politically tone deaf in reaching out to the Guardian editor without bringing Baquet on board first, for example. She didn’t work at, or didn’t much care, about building consensus. That unilateral management style is typical and works well at The Wall Street Journal, which is where she trained, but it’s not the tradition at the Times. And she wrote that embarrassing puppy book.

Sulzberger is trying to have it both ways. He wants an editor worthy of leading a great news operation. And he wants an editor who is embraced by the staff. In the pre-Pinch era, staff seethed under prior editors, who were frequently capricious, mercurial, crude and caused some of the best employees to flee. But the company tolerated it because it believed the institution was more important than any single employee, or even a group of employees. Then with Abramson it doesn’t? There is the double standard.

I like your site. Although I don’t agree with all, perhaps little, that you or commentators write, it nonetheless is a joy to read and makes me think. I am not Catholic or even have strong faith, but find there is much here I feel in my bones is true and beautiful and makes common sense.

Laura writes:

Thank you very much.

Since I am not an admirer of the Times, although I do acknowledge the great deal of talent that goes into producing it, it’s hard for me to think in terms of a good or bad editor there. Pravda had good and bad editors too, but I couldn’t particularly care which were which.

Anyway, you seem to be saying that she was fired because she was not liked by the employees and Sulzberger couldn’t deal with that — not because she was a woman.

Jane writes:

I think Jill Abramson was fired for what she told Al Jazeera in an interview back in January. She is quoted as saying the Obama Administration is “the most secretive administration” she has ever dealt with. She stepped over the line and got punished. The photo seems eerily arranged. Meanwhile, the horse and pony show about gender issues.

Laura writes:

An interesting theory.

May 21, 2014

Buck writes:

Jill Abramson couldn’t have made herself look more unattractive and un-feminine as she posed for that buffoonish boxing photo. Clearly, she is not into fitness. And, just as clearly, she knew that it would be tweeted. She is a media mogul for God’s sake.

In the MailOnline story, the reason for Jill Abramson’s departure from the New York Times is discussed in terms of her conduct versus “gender” bias. Again, clearly, though she is biologically a female, she in not into some radical feminine “construction”. So how can this be about “gender” bias? It could have something to do with sex, but that’s not being discussed.

Jill Abramson, though sexed as a female, appears to me to be – just from these photos and stories – to be a relatively masculine female editor, and clearly she intended to be seen as such. So, where is the evidence of gender bias?

Is this really about the New York Times’ lamenting the lack of femininity in the news room?

They’re still arguing about her compensation package. Sulzberger says her ” ‘package’ was more than 10% higher than that [of Keller] in his last full year as Executive Editor.” Arguments about compensation at this level are pointless if your not in the room with the payer and the accountant. Talk to anyone at that salary level about the range of tax avoidance schemes and deferred compensation tactics. Creative finance people and tax accountants utilize every trick in the book to manipulate the numbers to the advantage of the payer. No one but the accountants know who ends up with more.

Is this really only about an unequal compensation claim? Or is this really about the relentless, and now reflexive push to deny and defy the natural order?

Does the position as top editor of the New York Times require masculine or feminine qualities? If feminine qualities are required, which ones? Who has demonstrated them? Was Jill Abramson’s management style described with traditional masculine or traditional feminine terms? Or, do we any longer make the distinction?

I know it when I see it, because I still get that wonderful feeling. Is that the root of the problem?

If it is, and it seems obvious that it is, then why all subterfuge?

I realize that I’m repeating what is obvious and simply circling the circle. Real life is turning into a cartoon and comic books might as well chronicle real life.

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