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Arthur Sulzberger Defends Jill Abramson Firing

Sulzberger firmly rebutted claims by Abramson's camp that she was dismissed because she complained her pay was lower than that of her predecessor.

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'PINCH' PUNCHES BACK: New York Times Publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr may have suffered a few figurative black eyes over the last few days following the firing of boxing fan and Times executive editor Jill Abramson, but today he stepped back into the ring to show he isn't down for the count. In yet another in a string of memos to Times staffers and the general public since Abramson's ouster Wednesday, Sulzberger again firmly rebutted claims by Abramson's camp that one of the reasons she was dismissed was because she complained that her pay was lower than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller.

In the statement, Sulzberger said, "Perhaps the saddest outcome of my decision to replace Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times is that it has been cast by many as an example of the unequal treatment of women in the workplace. Rather than accepting that this was a situation involving a specific individual who, as we all do, has strengths and weaknesses, a shallow and factually incorrect storyline has emerged.

Fueling this have been persistent but incorrect reports that Jill’s compensation package was not comparable with her predecessor’s. This is untrue. Jill’s pay package was comparable with Bill Keller’s; in fact, by her last full year as executive editor, it was more than 10% higher than his."

Sulzberger insisted Abramson's sacking was down to her management style. "Jill is an outstanding journalist and editor, but with great regret, I concluded that her management of the newsroom was simply not working out," he said.

"During her tenure, I heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues. I discussed these issues with Jill herself several times and warned her that, unless they were addressed, she risked losing the trust of both masthead and newsroom. She acknowledged that there were issues and agreed to try to overcome them. We all wanted her to succeed. It became clear, however, that the gap was too big to bridge and ultimately I concluded that she had lost the support of her masthead colleagues and could not win it back."

Sulzberger concluded that the Times has many key editors — and "rising stars" — who are women and that they all insist on being judged objectively by their performance. "That is what happened in the case of Jill," he said, adding, "Equality is at the core of our beliefs at The Times. It always will be."