Fist of all, did you read Ken Auletta's latest reporting yesterday on Jill Abramson's firing? By the looks of it, Ken Auletta's source is God himself. (Or Jill Abramson?) He's been doing laps around other reporters, including Dylan Byers at Politico, whose piece about Abramson's firing I now regret linking to on Wednesday. Poor Byers. He was one of the first reporters with the scoop, he just didn't have the right story behind the scoop. He's getting a beating on social media:
I hope Charlie Rose has Dylan Byers on tomorrow to discuss how awesome Auletta's coverage has been.
— Jacob Fappington IV (@elongreen) May 16, 2014
One of the things Auletta reveals is exactly how much Abramson was being paid—according to "some numbers I've been given."
As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000. She learned that her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes. She also learned that her salary as Washington bureau chief, from 2000 to 2003, was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her successor in that position, Phil Taubman.
And there's been an interesting back and forth between Auletta and a New York Times spokesperson when it comes to the Abramson's pay and the fact that she hired a lawyer to fight for her:
Abramson's attempt to raise the salary issue at a time when tempers were already frayed seemed wrongheaded to [her bosses] 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."
Which led to reactions like this:
Of course complaining about sexist pay inequality is part of the "pattern" that led to firing a woman OMG SUE THEM. http://t.co/pgEi1fPXL7
— Choire (@Choire) May 16, 2014
Lo and behold, Eileen Murphy is now taking issue with the way Auletta quoted her, and Auletta has since updated his post to say:
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.”
Huh. Meanwhile, there's a bunch of other interesting marginalia in Auletta's reporting—for instance, the weird existence of an email he says Abramson received just three weeks ago in which New York Times CEO Thompson gushed that he hoped Abramson would stay on as editor for "years," which doesn't square with the "brutal fashion" in which she was fired three weeks later. Also in the story: What sounds like the most awkward lunch of all time, an incident that doesn't show Abramson's management style in the best light. It was a lunch between Abramson's deputy, New York Times managing editor Dean Baquet, and a talented Guardian editor Abramson was trying to woo into a position working right alongside Dean Baquet—except, according to Auletta, Abramson never told Baquet this. He thought he was just having lunch with the editor of The Guardian.
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.
Meanwhile, Buzzfeed has unearthed that internal memo that seems to have set the whole company on edge—a 96-page document in which the New York Times explains to itself what it thinks is wrong with the New York Times. It has everything, from the steadily declining traffic to the New York Times homepage to the way stories are tagged to what their competitors are doing better than they are. You really ought to just read it. (There are a few pages missing there, but that's most of it.) From the outside, the New York Times has impressed me with what they've done with new media, so it's shocking to read that they don't think they're doing a good job, and even more shocking to then watch them argue, persuasively, that they're not doing a good job. I still think they're doing a great job, and focusing on growth at the expense of all else is a very business-centric way to look at it, but then again the New York Times is a business. And, obviously, it's literally my job to go to the New York Times homepage regularly; that's not the case for most people.
Jill Abramson was scheduled to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University this weekend, but she's canceled her appearance, understandably. The weird thing in that story is the school spokesperson saying they wouldn't give her the honorary degree in absentia because the school only gives honorary degrees in absentia under "exceptional circumstances." If Jill Abramson's week doesn't qualify as "exceptional circumstances," I don't know what does.