Was It Abramson's Pay? Her Style? Gender?
Thursday, May 15, 2014
The ouster of Jill Abramson, left, as executive editor of the New York Times overshadowed the appointment of Dean Baquet, right, as her successor. Whether she was being paid more than her predecessor, Bill Keller, center, became a central issue in the drama. The three are shown at Abramson's 2011 appointment. (Credit: Fred R. Conrad/the New York Times)
- Update: Ravi Somaiya, New York Times: Times Publisher Denies Gender Figured in Top Editor’s Dismissal (May 17)
- Update: Howard Kurtz, Fox News: Sulzberger, under siege, rips Jill Abramson for poor management (May 17)
- Update: Text of Sulzberger statement: "A Shallow and Factually Incorrect Storyline Has Emerged" (May 17) (Comments section)
Gossip overshadowed the history-making moment for Dean Baquet. He became the first African-American to head the venerable New York Times," Tracie Powell wrote on Thursday for her alldigitocracy.com. "The focus, instead, was on whether gender politics — or something else — played a part in his predecessor's ouster.
"The New Yorker's Ken Auletta quoted unnamed sources who said former editor Jill Abramson was fired because she clashed with higher ups; NPR's David Folkenflik quoted unnamed sources saying money was the 'final rupture' to the relationship; BuzzFeed's Kate Aurthur recounted internal squabbles 'friends' told her about that led to Abramson’s exit; Politico's Dylan Byers and The New York Times' own David Carr and Ravi Somaiya speculated that Baquet's anger over Abramson’s attempt to install a co-managing editor without his consent precipitated her abrupt departure. . . ."
Even Journal-isms subscribers became caught up in the gossip. A message intended to be private was inadvertently posted to members of the Journal-isms email list, and others added their comments. "What reporter doesn't enjoy some gossip and speculation? ;)" one wrote.
Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald, who published Edward Snowden's leaks from the National Security Agency, delivered seemingly the first criticism of the choice of Baquet. On HuffPost Live, Greenwald argued "that Baquet has displayed a history of journalism that’s been 'subservient' to people in power," Josh Feldman wrote Friday for mediaite.com. Feldman also wrote, "Greenwald said Baquet has a 'really disturbing history of practicing this form of journalism that is incredibly subservient to the American national security state.' . . ."
However, Baquet replied by email Saturday to Journal-isms, "The greenwald comment is idiotic. I've been The key person pushing back against the government. He doesn't know what he is talking about."
Auletta, the veteran, plugged-in media watcher, weighed in late Thursday with perhaps the most detailed follow-up on the Times intrigue, published in a blog post on the New Yorker website.
Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. "and Abramson had a fraught relationship almost from the start of her tenure as executive editor, nearly three years ago," Auletta wrote. "He saw her as difficult, high-handed, and lacking in finesse in her management of people at the paper. She, in turn, was increasingly resentful of his intrusions into her command of editorial operations, and of his increasingly close relationship with Mark Thompson, the company's C.E.O., who came from England and the BBC to run the business side.
"It is always hard to say what causes a final break—a firing, a divorce—but, clearly, a last straw came a few weeks ago, when Abramson, who made little secret of her displeasure with Sulzberger, decided to hire a lawyer to complain that her salary was not equal to that of her predecessor, Bill Keller. She had also been told by reliable sources at the paper that, as managing editor, she had once earned less than the managing editor of news operations, John Geddes.
"Abramson's attempt to raise the salary issue at a time when tempers were already frayed seemed wrongheaded to Sulzberger and Thompson, both on its merits and in terms of her approach. Bringing in a lawyer, in particular, seems to have struck them as especially combative. Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times, argued that there was no real compensation gap, but conceded to me that 'this incident was a contributing factor' to the firing of Abramson, because 'it was part of a pattern.'
"(Update: Murphy wrote to me after this post went up to dispute this. Her quote is accurate and in context, as I've confirmed in my notes. However, she now e-mails: 'I said to you that the issue of bringing a lawyer in was part of a pattern that caused frustration. I NEVER said that it was part of a pattern that led to her firing because that is just not true.')
"Another episode that added to the characterization of Abramson as hard to deal with came after a decision was made to hire a second managing editor to oversee the Times' digital endeavors. Abramson led that hiring effort. The Times, in its story on Abramson’s dismissal, said that Abramson had offered the job to Janine Gibson, the editor of Guardian U.S., 'without consulting' Dean Baquet, then the managing editor and now Abramson's successor.
"This implies that Abramson was operating more or less in a vacuum, without consistent consultations with her colleagues, particularly Baquet. Gibson met separately with Sulzberger and Thompson on May 5th, and had lunch with Baquet that same day. What Baquet did not know, until Gibson herself mentioned it to him at lunch, I’m told, is that she was offered a managing-editor job comparable to his own. He was, it is fair to say, unenthusiastic, and even angered.
"Abramson clearly should have conferred earlier with Baquet, a failure that contributed to the impression that she could be an unskilled and insensitive executive. But the story is complicated by a previously undisclosed e-mail from April 28th, from Thompson to Abramson . . ."
Auletta concluded, "No one is served well by this story — not Sulzberger, Abramson, or Baquet, who cannot have wanted his elevation to come with controversy. Nor is it good for the institution of the Times. . . ."
Abramson's status as the Times' first female editor and the introduction of the pay-disparity issue made it easy to cast the story as simply one of a woman wronged.
The Times' own story, by Leslie Kaufman and Somaiya, reported Thursday, "A day after The New York Times Company announced that it had dismissed Jill Abramson, The Times’s first female executive editor, it found itself mired in controversy, having to reassure employees and rebut reports that her removal was related to her complaints about receiving less pay than her male predecessors.
"In announcing Ms. Abramson’s departure on Wednesday, the company said she had been fired only because of management issues, but through Thursday, a strong counternarrative had emerged in the news media — including the 'Morning Joe' show on MSNBC and The New Yorker — that Ms. Abramson had been a victim of sexism by being held to a different standard than male editors. The news even reverberated on Capitol Hill, where Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, used Ms. Abramson’s ouster to argue for equal pay legislation. . . ."
As the speculation continued alongside genuine reporting, one point in Powell's piece seemed to be lost.
"Abramson’s firing is a great story, filled with intrigue and resonance for a lot of women — black and white — who have fought the good fight in corporate America," Powell wrote. "But Baquet’s promotion is an equally great story because of its historic resonance. Media watchers are doing a poor job telling both these stories in ways that do justice not only to both individuals, but also the struggles that both women and minorities have experienced in white male dominated corporate cultures, including at The New York Times. . . ." [Updated May 17]
- Brett Anderson, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: A history of the Baquets, New Orleans restaurant family: From the T-P archives
- Monica Anderson, Pew Research Center: As Jill Abramson exits the NY Times, a look at how women are faring in newsrooms
- Joshua Benton, Nieman Journalism Lab: The leaked New York Times innovation report is one of the key documents of this media age
- Jordan Chariton, TVNewser: TV News Covers New York Times Shakeup
- Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review: Baquet’s big job: The Times’ new editor must navigate business-side challenges, and still match the great journalism that Abramson produced
- Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: Jill Abramson leaves the New York Times – and the chatter begins
- Gene Demby, NPR "Code Switch": A Complicated First: A Black Editor Takes The Helm At The Gray Lady
- Elisabeth Donnelly, flavorwire.com: The Media's Reporting on Jill Abramson Is as Complicated as Her Firing
- Josh Feldman, mediaite.com: Greenwald: New NYT Editor Has Disturbing History of Being ‘Subservient’ to Gov’t
- Ann Friedman, New York: Jill Abramson Will Never Know Why She Got Fired
- Jon Friedman, MarketWatch: New York Times again sidesteps issue of diversity
- Lloyd Grove, Daily Beast: The NYT’s Game of Thrones: How the Top Journalism Job Was Dangled at Guardian Editor
- Richard Horgan, FishbowlNY: Michael Wolff: Abramson Ouster Due to ‘The Most Elemental Reason’
- Richard Horgan, FishbowlNY: Jill Abramson’s Daughter Throws Instagram Upper Cut
- Douglas McCollam, Columbia Journalism Review: Why did Sulzberger hire Abramson?
- National Association of Black Journalists: NABJ Congratulates Member Dean Baquet on Being Named Executive Editor of The New York Times
- Jim Naureckas, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: Will NYT's New Editor Stand Up for Investigative Journalism?
- Geneva Overholser blog: Abramson and Sulzberger: The Two Who Couldn’t Tango (May 17)
- Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post: Dean Baquet, from New Orleans reporter to executive editor of the New York Times
- Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post: Hillary Clinton, Jill Abramson and the victim syndrome
- Felix Salmon, LinkedIn: Why Salaries Shouldn't Be Secret
- Rachel Sklar, medium.com: The Prettiest Girl at the Party
- Michael Solomon, Forbes: New York Times: Who Plays Jill Abramson, Dean Baquet and Others in Hollywood’s Version?
- Joe Strupp, Media Matters for America: With Jill Abramson's NY Times Ouster, None Of The Ten Largest Papers Are Led By Women
- Margaret Sullivan, New York Times: What Might Leadership Change Mean for Times Readers?
- Myles Tanzer, BuzzFeed: Exclusive: New York Times Internal Report Painted Dire Digital Picture
"Prodded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Google said Wednesday that it will reverse a long-held stance and reveal publicly how many minority workers are employed by the giant Internet company, in a report next month," Brandon Bailey reported for the San Jose Mercury News.
" 'We're working very hard. We're not doing enough and we can do better,' said David Drummond, the company's chief legal officer, after Jackson attended Google's annual shareholder meeting and urged top executives to provide more opportunities for blacks, Latinos and other minorities. . . ."
Bailey also wrote, "Google has three female directors, and Drummond, the company's fourth-highest paid officer, is black. Drummond said Google is working with historically black colleges to improve their computer-science programs, but he acknowledged, 'we need to do a lot more.'
"Along with other valley companies, Google has balked at divulging its minority hiring statistics, arguing that the information is a competitive secret. 'We've come to the conclusion that we're wrong about that,' Drummond said. . . ."
Google held a "day-long summit with media industry leaders" on Thursday at the Newseum in Washington. Co-sponsors included the Online News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the International Center for Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.
"Before anyone tries to criticize me for schlepping for Google and YouTube," Errin Haines, NABJ's vice president/print, wrote for alldigitocracy.org, "let me just say that journalists are already on these platforms, but we are hardly maximizing their potential for our benefit. If we are only using 10 percent of our brain power, we are using even less of Google's power.
"I believe this is especially true in ethnic media and at historically black colleges and universities. Reaching these groups is crucial to building a diverse pipeline of qualified digital journalists ready to work in the 21st century newsroom — something the industry is currently sorely lacking. I left the day’s event empowered as an ambassador to these groups and others about the storytelling potential for journalists with these skills. . . ."
"Following the Federal Communications Commission's vote to move ahead with new open Internet rules that could allow for some companies to pay for faster delivery of their content online, calls of protest have sprouted from Internet companies and activists alike," Alex Wilhelm reported Friday for TechCrunch.
"What’s next? FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will head to [Congress] on May 20 for a sitdown that should prove contentious. When it first became known that Wheeler would testify in front of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, it was before it was clear what the proposed net neutrality rules would be and when they would be voted on. . . ."
The New York Times' Edward Wyatt wrote of the FCC's 3-2 decision, "While the rules are meant to prevent Internet providers from knowingly slowing data, they would allow content providers to pay for a guaranteed fast lane of service. Some opponents of the plan, those considered net neutrality purists, argue that allowing some content to be sent along a fast lane would essentially discriminate against other content. . . ."
- Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Goodbye "net neutrality," and more craziness from Florida.
- David Carr, New York Times: Warnings Along F.C.C.'s Fast Lane
- Free Press: The Fight to Save the Internet Is ON
"One oft-employed generalization about The Kids These Days is that they've grown up free from the legalized discrimination and racial neuroses of older generations, and they will live in a more multicultural world with less racism. But do we even know if that's true?," Gene Demby wrote Thursday for NPR's "Code Switch" blog.
"MTV, that reliable weather vane of popular youth culture, wanted to find out. It polled a nationally representative sample of people ages 14 to 24 about their views on bias and identity.
" 'The first thing we wanted to just find out was how much our audience knew about bias, talked about bias and cared about bias,' Luke Hales, the lead researcher on the survey, told me. The poll was conducted ahead of MTV's Look Different project, which is meant to help young people deal with bias and discrimination in their daily lives.
"What the pollsters found is that many values are shared across all racial groups, like a strong sense of the importance of equality. But they also found that the respondents seemed to lack historical perspective, which might not be too surprising because of their ages. Another reason they may not have much historical perspective? Race isn't something they talk about very much. (More on that in a minute.) . . ."
- Lewis W. Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Continued segregation is failure of Brown ruling
- Meagan Hatcher-Mays, Media Matters for America: As 60th Anniversary of Brown Approaches, Right-Wing Media Undermine And Distort Its Legacy
- Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR "Code Switch": Before 'Brown V. Board,' Mendez Fought California's Segregated Schools
- Noah Rothman, mediaite.com: Melissa Harris-Perry: 'You’re Not Getting a Full Education' in a Single-Race Classroom
- Amanda Zamora, ProPublica: Discussion: School Resegregation 60 Years After Brown v. Board
"Oprah has punted, for now, on a planned documentary series about openly gay NFL draftee Michael Sam," Thomas Tracy reported Friday for the Daily News in New York.
"The Oprah Winfrey Network announced Friday it will postpone the untitled documentary, claiming it didn't want to hurt the fledgling football star's chances of making it onto the St. Louis Rams.
"The team drafted Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by the National Football League, last week in a ground-breaking moment for professional sports. . . ."
Jason Hughes wrote Thursday for The Wrap, ""OWN cameras were already rolling at Michael Sam's house when he received the call that he'd been selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. His agent, Cameron Weiss, admitted on 'NFL Live' that the Rams didn't know about the planned documentary before they drafted Sam. . . ."
Columnists were disapproving of Sam's move.
- Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: World didn't end with Michael Sam's celebratory kiss
- James Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The kiss heard around the NFL
- Mike Huguenin, NFL.com: Michael Sam documentary won't be shot at Rams facility
- Drew Magary, Deadspin: Michael Sam Is Doing A Reality Show, And That Sucks
- Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: Michael Sam’s reality show circus
- Rick Sanchez, Fox News Latino: Michael Sam’s Behavior Was An Affront To The NFL Culture
- Jason Whitlock, ESPN.com: The right message
Harry E. Walker, who as photo director of the McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service is the highest ranking black journalist at the McClatchy-Tribune News Service, confirmed Friday that he will be leaving when Tribune Publishing, which owned 50 percent of the service, takes full ownership.
"As part of the acquisition, Washington, D.C.-based MCT will consolidate operations in Chicago and become part of Tribune Content Agency, a syndication and licensing business operated by Tribune Co. since 1918," Robert Channick wrote last week for the Chicago Tribune.
But Walker told Journal-isms by email, "No, myself nor anyone from my photo staff will be going to Chicago. To go to Chicago, you must reapply for new photo positions. No relocation assistance will be offered either.
"Most of the photo staff's last day at MCT will be July 3rd, with one editor remaining until August 1.
"One photo editor that already worked for Tribune Company in the Los Angeles bureau will remain with the company. He will be the sole remaining photo staff member once the transition takes place."
Who is remaining in the bureau? "Only 4 people from our innovations department. Approximately 40 others are being laid off, which is the remaining staff," Walker wrote.
As for his own hopes, "I would like to continue in photo editing as Director of Photography at major to mid-sized daily newspaper. Second choice would be to work in public relations or as a media coordinator," Walker added.
The Tribune acquisition put the jobs of five journalists of color at risk.
"Clayton Lockett didn’t do what he was supposed to do: die quickly and quietly," Jonathan Peters wrote Monday for Columbia Journalism Review.
"Lockett was the Oklahoma death-row inmate scheduled to be executed April 29. But when the execution began, something went wrong: After being declared unconscious, Lockett moved his head from side to side, lifted his head and feet off the gurney, tried to say something, groaned and mumbled while writhing, opened his eyes, and attempted to get up, all before dying of an apparent heart attack less than 30 minutes later, in the execution chamber.
"Lockett's gruesome death occurred in the full glare of a media spotlight — in part because of concerns that Oklahoma had impeded oversight and threatened certain constitutional rights by shrouding in secrecy, like an increasing number of states, key parts of its capital punishment system.
"The spectacle prompted Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to postpone a second execution scheduled for the same night, that of Charles Warner, who subsequently asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to put off his execution 'until evidence can be provided … [that] Oklahoma can carry out a humane, constitutional execution.' The state agreed last week to a six-month delay. Meanwhile, the state public safety commissioner is conducting an (independent?) investigation of Lockett’s cause of death, focusing on whether the execution team complied with protocols and how to improve those protocols.
"While Oklahoma reviews its practices, I’ll offer a suggestion to the Sooner State: Be less secretive about how you kill people. The state has been unwilling to answer even basic questions about the source of the lethal-injection cocktail used in Lockett's execution. But when the government is mum about how it exercises what the legal scholar Vincent Blasi called its 'unique capacity to employ legitimized violence,' it's not only a shameful failure of government transparency — it may actually violate the First Amendment. . . ."
- Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Eye-for-an-Eye Incivility (May 4)
- Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Murder suspects at least deserve competent lawyers (May 8)
- Deron Lee, Columbia Journalism Review: How the First Amendment challenge to lethal-injection secrecy came together
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Firing squads are better than this (May 7)
- Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times: Journalists launch legal assault on Missouri execution secrecy laws
- Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Botched execution should be death knell of capital punishment (May 2)
- Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: 135 years ago, NC had its own 'clumsy execution'
- DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: Crass murder shifts my view on executions (May 6)
The Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly the National Conference of Editorial Writers, annually grants a Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship — actually an award — "in recognition of an educator's outstanding efforts to encourage minority students in the field of journalism." The educator should be at the college level.
Nominations, now being accepted for the 2014 award, should consist of a statement about why you believe your nominee is deserving.
The final selection will be made by the AOJ Foundation board and announced in time for the Sept. 21-23 convention in Mobile, Ala., where the presentation will be made.
Since 2000, the recipient has been awarded an honorarium of $1,000 to be used to "further work in progress or begin a new project."
Past winners include James Hawkins, Florida A&M University (1990); Larry Kaggwa, Howard University (1992); Ben Holman, University of Maryland (1996); Linda Jones, Roosevelt University, Chicago (1998); Ramon Chavez, University of Colorado, Boulder (1999); Erna Smith, San Francisco State (2000); Joseph Selden, Penn State (2001); Cheryl Smith, Paul Quinn College (2002); Rose Richard, Marquette University (2003); Leara D. Rhodes, University of Georgia (2004); Denny McAuliffe, University of Montana (2005); Pearl Stewart, Black College Wire (2006); Valerie White, Florida A&M University (2007); Phillip Dixon, Howard University (2008); Bruce DePyssler, North Carolina Central University (2009); Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University (2010); Yvonne Latty, New York University (2011); Michelle Johnson, Boston University (2012); and Vanessa Shelton, University of Iowa (2013).
Nominations may be emailed to Richard Prince, AOJ Diversity Committee chair, richardprince (at) hotmail.com. The deadline is May 23. Please use that address only for AOJ matters.
- "CBS is in the 'early stages' of developing a 24-hour digital news network, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves says," Chris Ariens reported Thursday for TVNewser. "Appearing on Bloomberg today, Moonves told Trish Regan the digital channel will be 'an exciting alternative to cable news.' BuzzFeed first reported in October that CBS was considering the idea of an all-news network. . . . CBS News president David Rhodes, who is a veteran of Fox News and Bloomberg TV, is heading up the effort. . . ."
- "For weeks we've been writing about the legacy of Barbara Walters," Chris Ariens wrote Thursday for TVNewser. "This afternoon, that legacy came to life in the finale of her final 'The View,' taped at ABC's West Side studios, and airing tomorrow. TVNewser was there as more than two dozen women TV news anchors packed the stage, each introduced by Oprah Winfrey, among the guests on Walters’ final show. One by one, they greeted a stunned Walters, beginning with Diane Sawyer." Among the surprise guests were journalists of color Robin Roberts, Elizabeth Vargas, Deborah Roberts, Natalie Morales, Gayle King, Juju Chang, Lisa Ling, Tamron Hall and Connie Chung. "You’ll never see this again, folks," Whoopi Goldberg said as the show wound down, Ariens reported. "Only for Barbara."
- "This week, the big broadcast networks announced their schedules for the 2014-15 TV season during the industry's 'upfront' presentations to advertisers," Eric Deggans wrote Friday for NPR. "And there are 10 new series featuring non-white characters and/or show creators — numbers we haven't seen since the days when everybody was trying to clone The Cosby Show. . . . I've got some ideas for how network TV can avoid fumbling away its progress by getting diversity on television right. . . ."
- Filmmaker Annabel Park, right, reads a passage about the Los Angeles riots as part of "One Nation With News for All," an exhibit on ethnic media that opened Friday at the Newseum in Washington. Also shown on the video are others who were filmed reading from historic newspapers: Donna Walker, Gregg Deal, Brandon A. Benavides and Richard Prince (video).
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for the Atlantic and blogger for its website, has written the cover story for the magazine's June issue on the case for reparations He previewed the article Friday on his blog.
- "Lawyers defending three al-Jazeera journalists on trial in Egypt have been asked to pay more than £100,000 [more than $168,000] to access secret video evidence on which the prosecution's case depends, the court heard on Thursday," Patrick Kingsley reported Thursday for Britain's Guardian newspaper. "In a separate development, it emerged that a fourth al-Jazeera journalist jailed in a second case has been sent to solitary confinement despite his health failing due to an ongoing 114-day hunger strike. . . ."
- In Austin, Texas, "Hema Mullur will join Walt Maciborski, Chikage Windler, and Bob Ballou as anchor of the KEYE News 5pm, 6pm, and 10pm weekday newscasts," KEYE-TV announced on Tuesday. "Hema (Hey-ma) Mullur comes to KEYE from KDVR in Denver where she anchored the 10 p.m. Fox news as well as the 7 p.m. on CW for the past three years. . . ." By email, Mullur told Journal-isms she was "of Indian (South Asian) origin."
- Kent Harrell, news director for the past 20 months at WFRV-TV in Green Bay, Wis., told FTVLive he turned in his notice last week and is headed to a news director job in Springfield, Ill., Scott Jones reported for the site on Thursday.
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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@JamilSmith The distorted #media depiction of African American men & boys has real life consequences, again. #mediadiversity #Tremaine