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Arthur Sulzberger Jr. Sounds Off on Jill Abramson's Pay

In an internal e-mail sent to New York Times staffers Thursday, he aired his concern "about the misinformation that has been widely circulating in the media."

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PAY DAY AT THE TIMES:In an internal e-mail sent to New York Times staffers Thursday, publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. aired his concern “about the misinformation that has been widely circulating in the media” following Jill Abramson’s departure Wednesday. Wanting “particularly to set the record straight about Jill’s pay as executive editor of the Times,” he said, “It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors.”

Abramson did not respond to a request for comment.

“Her pay is comparable to that of earlier executive editors. In fact, in 2013, her last full year in the role, her total compensation package was more than 10 percent higher than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, in his last full year as executive editor, which was 2010,” Sulzberger wrote. “It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.”

Sulzberger went on to note that comparisons between the pensions of different executive editors are difficult for several reasons. “Pensions are based upon years of service with the company. Jill’s years of service were significantly fewer than those of many of her predecessors. Secondly, as you may know, pension plans for all managers at The New York Times were frozen in 2009. But this and all other pension changes at the company have been applied without any gender bias, and Jill was not singled out or differentially disadvantaged in any way.”

Sulzberger said, “Compensation played no part whatsoever in my decision that Jill could not remain as executive editor. Nor did any discussion about compensation. The reason — the only reason — for that decision was concerns I had about some aspects of Jill’s management of our newsroom, which I had previously made clear to her, both face-to-face and in my annual assessment.

“This company is fully committed to equal treatment of all its employees, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or any other characteristic,” he wrote. “We are working hard to live up to that principle in every part of our organization. I am satisfied that we fully lived up to that commitment with regard to Jill.”

Meanwhile, Abramson is on to other things, namely delivering the commencement address at Wake Forest University Monday morning. Abramson reaffirmed her commitment, after the school’s president Nathan Hatch reached out to her. “We just got the word that she’ll be there,” Katie Neal, Wake Forest’s executive director of news and communication, said Thursday afternoon.

And 1,700 undergraduates and graduate students will be all ears. For those that can’t make the trip to Winston-Salem, N.C., Abramson’s speech will be live-streamed.

In other news, in the wake of Abramson’s exit, the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet is circulating a petition calling on The New York Times to commit to pay transparency. Describing pay discrimination as “a huge problem in America,” UltraViolet organizers noted in an e-mail Thursday that the average woman loses $11,608 in earned income annually due to pay discrimination, according to the National Women’s Law Center.