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Sudden ousting of NYT`s first ever woman executive editor

Sudden ousting of NYT`s first ever woman executive editor

Posted May. 21, 2014 06:38,   


At the graduation ceremony at Wake Forest University in North Carolina on Monday, an elderly woman was greeted with a long applause as she walked to the podium to deliver a speech. She said she had received a dismissal notice from her company last week. "What’s next for me? I don’t know. So I’m in exactly the same boat as many of you,” she told the crowd of graduates. "It meant more to our father to see us deal with a setback and try to bounce back, than watch how we handled our successes. Show what you are made of, he would say," she added.

The speaker was Jill Abramson who was abruptly fired recently after having been appointed as the first ever woman executive editor of New York Times in 2011. The decision to oust the 60-year-old executive editor before her reaching mandatory retirement age of 65 was harshly criticized by media. On the dismissal, they criticized that it was the harshest and insulting incident in media history and a terrible, senseless layoff. New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, said "lack of quality" was reason for firing Abramson. In 2003, he was praised when he ousted former executive editor Howell Raines for article manipulation.

There has been a lot of speculation about why Abramson dropped out, which includes lack of communication, lack of quality as leader and discrimination against women. According to weekly magazine New Yorker, Abramson recently pressed Sulzberger for a more generous compensation package on discovering that her pay fell far short of those awarded to her male predecessor Bill Keller and her associate, deputy managing editor. Abramson’s pay was ultimately adjusted to Keller’s level but led to management saying she was “pushy,” many said.

It is difficult to tell if high-ranking female leaders get hostile response due to poor work capability or bias against women. Whatever the reason is, the firing of the U.S.’s first woman executive editor reveals the gloomy reality of women workers in a country that is famed as practicing gender equality. Women workers go up the ladder and break the "glass ceiling" but again stand at a "glass cliff."

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)