UPDATE #2: Abramson already off the Times masthead. The New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. stunned the newsroom this afternoon with the announcement that Executive Editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to lead the paper of record, is being replaced by Managing Editor Dean Baquet. By 5 P.M. New York time, the Times masthead already had been updated to reflect the change. Baquet becomes the first African-American to lead the Times. No specific reason was given for the abrupt move, but grumblings about Abramson’s management style, which many staffers complained was aloof and dismissive, as well as whispers about her run-ins with the paper’s business-side chief, Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, had been circulating among the chatterati for months.
According to The Times, Sulzberger told senior editors in a gathering at a conference room Wednesday afternoon and then addressed the full newsroom around 2:30 p.m. EDT. All he said after the official announcement, according to reporters who were there, was that “we had an issue with management in the newsroom.” I guess so. One insider with knowledge of the last-minute negotiations said that Abramson was adamant about not saying she was leaving “to pursue other options.”
A one-time investigative reporter and D.C. bureau chief at the paper, Abramson won the top job in 2011. Her official comment suggested that she is leaving the paper completely. “I’ve loved my run at The Times,” she said in a statement. “I got to work with the best journalists in the world doing so much stand-up journalism,” she said, noting her appointment of many senior female editors as one of her achievements. She’s expected to have more to say once she’s out of the newsroom.
Baquet has had a storied career at The Times (as well as at the Los Angeles Times) as an admired journalist, leader, peacemaker and manager, helping to restore calm after several embarrassing episodes in the Gotham paper’s recent history, from its tarnished reporting on the run-up to the war in Iraq to a scandal involving false and plagiarized reporting. “There is no journalist in our newsroom or elsewhere better qualified to take on the responsibilities of executive editor at this time than Dean Baquet,” said Sulzberger. “He is an exceptional reporter and editor with impeccable news judgment who enjoys the confidence and support of his colleagues around the world and across the organization.”