New York Times Denies Reports That Jill Abramson Was Paid Less Than Her Male Predecessor

A dispute over pay was reportedly one of the reasons behind Jill Abramson’s firing from The New York Times.

A few hours after Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. made the surprise announcement he “chose to appoint a new leader” and replace Abramson with managing editor Dean Baquet Wednesday afternoon, the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta reported her departure was preceded by a confrontation over her compensation. Auletta wrote that an unnamed “close associate” of Abramson said she “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.” After this revelation, Auletta said the associate claimed Abramson “confronted the top brass.”

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy disputed this account.

“Jill’s total compensation as executive editor was not meaningfully less than Bill Keller’s, so that is just incorrect,” Murphy wrote in an email to Business Insider. “Her pension benefit, like all Times employees, is based on her years of service and compensation. The pension benefit was frozen in 2009.”

However, Auletta also noted “another friend” of Abramson’s said the pay gap between her and Keller was “closed” after the confrontation. When asked specifically whether Abramson’s compensation was “meaningfully less” than Keller’s before she raised the issue, Murphy reiterated her claim the report of a pay gap was incorrect.

“It was never meaningfully less,” she said of Abramson’s compensation.

Auletta claimed other Times staffers were concerned about the pay disparity between Abramson and Keller. He said it brought up “ugly memories” of a 1974 lawsuit female employees made against the paper due to allegations of sex discrimination in hiring, pay, and promotion.

On Twitter, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik subsequently confirmed Auletta’s report. Folkenflik also noted unspecified “figures at Times wonder what role gender ultimately played in (Abramson’s) ouster.”

Both Folkenflik and Auletta cited other factors behind Abramson’s exit from the Times. Auletta said Sulzberger had a “frustration” with Abramson that was “growing” due to her clashes with the company’s CEO over advertising and her push to hire a deputy managing editor to oversee the paper’s web properties. Folkenflik also cited her clashes with the CEO, a perceived “rudeness,” and her relatively high profile, which he said Sulzberger “didn’t love.”

View Folkenflik’s tweets about Abramson’s firing below.

This story was updated at 7:07 p.m. to include Folkenflik’s tweets.

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