The only woman ever to run the New York Times is no longer running the New York Times. The newsroom got the news yesterday; Politico has some reporting about the announcement, along with some background on the situation.
It's unclear what happened, but for readers, this isn't necessarily good news: When it comes to quality journalism, no news organization has outdone the New York Times over the last three years, the years when Abramson has been in charge. What major news organization is doing new media better? What major news organization is doing news better? (Washington Post? No. CNN? Ha! And also: Ha!) Can you even think of a New York Times scandal associated with Jill Abramson? I can't. When I think of Bill Keller, I think of Judith Miller. When I think of Howell Raines, I think of Jayson Blair. Sure, there was bitching among Abramson's staff about their boss, but isn't there always bitching among the staff about their boss? It's not easy editing a newspaper—if an editor's any good, it's staffed with the nosiest, most critical, most articulate people available—and that's just what she was up against on the inside; on the outside, the New York Times is the most scrutinized newspaper in the world. You have to admit: Abramson was doing a bang-up job. As Matthew Yglesias at Vox writes, this decision doesn't make sense from a business point of view, either.
Abramson is being replaced by Dean Baquet, who's been managing editor for a while now. He's the New York Times's first African-American executive editor.
UPDATE: The New Yorker is reporting that Abramson was fired shortly after speaking up about being paid less than her male predecessor.
Several weeks ago, I'm told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.
It's a little more complicated than that—and reportedly her pay had recently been brought in line with her Keller's. But you ought to read Ken Auletta's reporting, as unconfirmed as this story is from official channels. On the one hand, The New Yorker is relying on unnamed sources here. On the other hand, The New Yorker is very reliable when it comes to reporting. Remember when they broke Abu Ghraib? The New York Times was reduced to reporting, basically: "According to The New Yorker, we've been torturing Iraqi soldiers..."