New York Times ousted its Executive Editor Jill Abramson
New York Times ousted its Executive Editor Jill AbramsonWikimedia Commons

The New York Times ousted its Executive Editor Jill Abramson, the first female to occupy the paper's top job, in a surprise announcement on Wednesday, sending shockwaves across the field of journalism, and prompting viral speculations on why she was fired.

As media personalities and people in the journalism fraternity tried to delve deep on why the popular US publication sacked its editorial head, a 'thesis' written by Ken Auletta, a media critic for the New Yorker, has now gone viral.

In the article posted by Auletta and linked by Drudge Report, he claims that the main reason why Abramson was dismissed and replaced by Dean Baquet (who becomes the first African American to head the NYT) was because the 60-year-old had been demanding equal pay and was against gender disparity.

"I'm told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor was considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs," the media critic wrote.

Citing one close associate, he further wrote that Abramson confronted the top brass over the issue "and this may have fed into the management's narrative that she was 'pushy,' a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect."

The article also quoted Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the NYT, saying that Abramson's total compensation as executive editor "was directly comparable to Bill Keller's", though it was not the same.

"I was also told by another friend of Abramson's that the pay gap with Keller was only closed after she complained. But, to woman at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories," he continued.

The article quoted a third associate saying that a former deputy managing editor - also a man - "made more money that she did" while she was managing editor.

"She had a lawyer make polite inquiries about the pay and pension disparities, which set them off," Auletta quoted his source as saying in her article.

Another issue was that Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper's publisher, was reportedly growing frustrated with Abramson. She had already clashed with the company's CEO Mark Thompson over native advertising and the perceived intrusion of the business side into the paper's editorial guidelines.

Abramson was also reportedly pushing to hire a deputy managing editor to oversee the digital side of the paper but Baquet apparently felt that he had not been consulted, thereby igniting a conflict within the organization.

The NYT itself published an article on the 'ouster' of Abrahamson, giving their view on the matter.

"In recent weeks Mr. Baquet had become angered over a decision by Ms. Abramson to make a job offer to a senior editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, and install her alongside him in a co-managing editor position without consulting him. It escalated the conflict between them and rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger," the report stated.