I would like to think that this is the last word about the firing of Jill Abramson as Executive Editor of The New York Times, but, alas, it probably isn’t.
As Abramson wished, her firing has become a public drama. Yesterday, publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger explained his decision. He fired Abramson because she was doing a lousy job. Incompetence, not gender did in the first woman editor of the Times:
I decided that Jill could no longer remain as executive editor for reasons having nothing to do with pay or gender. As publisher, my paramount duty is to ensure the continued quality and success of The New York Times. Jill is an outstanding journalist and editor, but with great regret, I concluded that her management of the newsroom was simply not working out.
During her tenure, I heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues. I discussed these issues with Jill herself several times and warned her that, unless they were addressed, she risked losing the trust of both masthead and newsroom. She acknowledged that there were issues and agreed to try to overcome them. We all wanted her to succeed. It became clear, however, that the gap was too big to bridge and ultimately I concluded that she had lost the support of her masthead colleagues and could not win it back.
Being a journalist and editor is not the same as managing a newsroom. Perhaps Abramson’s inadequacies did not appear until she took over the leading editorial job at the Times.
And yet, competent chief executive—that would not be Pinch Sulzberger—should know enough about the people he employs to make good hiring decisions.
As always, the buck stops at Pinch.