The WAM! Jill Abramson Reader

The Jill Abramson firing is a BFD. We all know this. Below is a round-up of great pieces from WAM!mers and other folks. Have you read something great on the topic? Email me at [email protected] and I’ll add it to the ongoing WAM! Jill Abramson Reader.

Jill Abramson Will Never Know Why She Got Fired — Ann Friedman at NYMag
“Women never know whether they’re being met with a hostile reaction because of their performance — something that they can address and change — or because of both male and female colleagues’ internalized notions of how women should behave….In real time, it’s hard to be sure what’s sexism and what’s you. Abramson exhibited this tension: She was unapologetic about her power and firm about her decisions, but she was also working with a coach to improve her management skills — presumably in response to complaints, such as those aired anonymously in Politico last year, that she was unpopular, unapproachable, condescending, brusque. Even though she and many outsiders recognized the double standards in the article, she later told Newsweek it made her cry.”

Like A Boss: Five Reasons Jill Abramson’s Firing Matters — Andi Zeisler at Bitch Magazine
“Since Abramson took the helm of the NYT less than three years ago, the language used to describe her has been predictably sexist: A 2013 Newsweek article (with the already obnoxious title “Good Jill, Bad Jill”) revealed that the editor “has  admitted to occasional ‘brusqueness.'” That article’s author, Lloyd Grove, calls her “high-handed, impatient, sarcastic, judgmental, and obstinate.” An almost breathtakingly sexist 2013 account from Politico about a disagreement between Abramson and Baquet stars off thus: “One Monday morning in April, Jill Abramson called Dean Baquet into her office to complain.” It then went on to quote staffers who called Abramson “stubborn” and “unreasonable.” But really, consider that first sentence: She called Baquet into her office to complain. It might as well have followed up with, “She was probably on the rag. Women, amirite?”

I Sort of Hope We Find Out That Jill Abramson Was Robbing the Cash Register — Rebecca Traister at The New Republic
“Abramson’s firing was among the most harsh and humiliating I’ve ever seen play out in the media’s recent history. Within minutes of the editorial meeting at which the turnover was announced, Abramson’s name had been scrubbed from the masthead of the paper she’s run for the past two and a half years. A Times spokeswoman told Buzzfeed that Abramson would not be remaining with the paper in any professional capacity and would have no involvement in the transition of power. Sulzberger made no pretense that this was anything other than an unceremonious dump. When staffers reportedly expressed concern that Abramson’s firing would be a blow to women, he helpfully explained that that women in top management positions are just as likely to be fired as men in top management positions.”

The Prettiest Girl at the Party — Rachel Sklar at Medium
“In terse remarks to the staff, Sulzberger explained the decision as “an issue with management in the newsroom.” He did not mention Abramson’s almost two decades at the Times, nor say a gracious word about her Pulitzer-winning, Snowfalling, Margaret-Sullivan-appointing, NYT-masthead-gender-parity-equalizing tenure….Abramson was let go in this way not becaue of a failure of business or journalism — the point of the enterprise, lest we forget! — but because Arthur Sulzberger is himself a bad manager, and managed this situation spectacularly badly.”

With Jill Abramson’s NY Times Ouster, None Of The Ten Largest Papers Are Led By Women — Joe Strupp at Media Matters
“And with Abramson gone, replaced by Dean Baquet — the paper’s first African-American executive editor — none of the top 10 daily papers have a woman at the helm. That’s unusual since at least half of those papers have seen female newsroom leadership in recent decades.”

Woman at the Top of the Masthead — Amanda Hess at Slate
“When Abramson was unexpectedly fired from the Times on Wednesday—17 years after joining the paper, and just two-and-a-half years after being tapped to run it—media reporters noted that she had made history as the first female executive editor in the paper’s 160-year history. But shooting off that brief line makes it seem as if her contribution to women was as simple as ticking off a box on the Times’ diversity checklist. According to a half-dozen women who worked with her, though, Abramson’s brief stint as the female leader of a male-dominated institution proved to be a transformative experience. By the time she left, media critics would report that staffers deemed her “polarizing,” “bitchy,” and “not approachable.” But to many women at the New York Times, Jill Abramson was everything.”

Boys on the Bus are Back — Anna Palmer at Politico
“In supervisory positions at the country’s top newspapers, 34.6 percent are held by women, according to the report….Abramson was a trailblazer for this reason. She rose through the ranks at The New York Times to serve as the first woman executive editor.”

The Jill Abramson-era New York Times Was a Business Success — Matthew Yglesias at Vox
“None of that proves Abramson was doing a great job as executive editor, of course. But it does make this change in leadership different from the vast majority of newspaper turnovers that we’ve seen in the past 10 years — the outgoing editor has been working at the core of a growing and successful business, not a declining one.”

What Happens to Women When Female Leaders Like Jill Abramson Get Fired? — Keli Goff at The Daily Beast
“If the appointment of women to top positions is supposed to help women below, what happens when women at the top don’t go the distance?”

It’s Not Just About the Money: Why Jill Abramson’s Firing Really Stings — Hannah Rosin at Slate
“The story of Abramson asking for a raise seems like the least plausible reason why she got fired, and yet for many women it will be the hardest part of this incident to forget.”

Jill Abramson Was Right to Get a Lawyer: “Pushy” Women Get Paid — Katie McDonough at Salon
“This is pretty epic bullshit. The reality is that if a woman’s employer has been paying her less than her male colleagues — sometimes for years and through many different positions — then why should she trust an internal process to remedy that? To be polite? Bringing it back to Abramson, if she was in fact being paid less than Keller — and less than her colleagues during her time as managing editor – why wouldn’t she get a lawyer to let the Times know she was serious about rectifying the disparity? That it was actually unacceptable that she wasn’t being compensated at the same rate as her male predecessors and colleagues?”

Journalism’s Gender Problem Just Got Worse With Jill Abramson’s Firing — Bryce Covert at The New Republic
“Whether or not Abramson fell victim to these biases, journalism—and the New York Times itself—is no stranger to gender disparities. A number of top publications were sued in the 1970s by female employees who were told they could only hold certain jobs and were paid less than the men at the papers, beginning with a suit at Newsweek. The Times itself was also sued. It may seem like distant history, but women writers at Newsweek revisited the issue in 2010 and recounted how they still faced barriers to reaching full equal representation in the newsroom. All but six of the magazine’s 49 cover stories the year before had been written by men, and the masthead was still 61 percent male—down from 75 percent in 1970, but still not parity. Among the country’s 10 most widely circulated newspapers, the Times has the biggest gender gap in its bylines, with 69 percent going to men. Among all of them, men get 63 percent of the stories. When women do get assignments, they are often relegated to the “pink ghetto” of health, lifestyle, and fashion. “

Jill Abramson’s ouster shows women that we still must be more than good — Emily Bell at The Guardian
“The fury of women journalists who identify with Abramson stems from what we know: that excellent performances are not enough. Women must be completely different from the men they replace (or who replace them), apparently – they must adapt to the power they are briefly allowed to hold without transgressing the gender roles they aren’t allowed to escape.”

Jill Abramson and Those Goddamn Pushy Female Bosses — Jessica Bennett at Jezebel
“So when a woman tries to act like a man to get ahead — or, you might say, like a leader — she suffers: liked less by both male and female colleagues, penalized for being “too aggressive.” When a man leads we see his assertiveness as “bold,” his demands “direct.” But when you’re Abramson — or any female boss before her — you’re just a bitch.”

Was Jill Abramson Pushed Off ‘Glass Cliff’? — Sarah Seltzer at The Sisterhood
“Drama at the office, I’ve learned in my decade in the working world, can arise at a nexus of interpersonal, political, and organizational conflict. It’s hard at times to extricate the three factors. Yet it’s also hard not to see gendered dimensions when pieces about yesterday’s ouster include the sentence: “The two men and Abramson clearly did not get along.”

Why the Jill Abramson Firing Hits Home for All Women — Melissa Silverstein at Forbes
“The thing that blows my mind time and again is that men in power really do not understand how unmoored women get when something of this magnitude occurs in our world. If we lived in a so-called post gender or post feminist world where women had an equal share of the power positions, then maybe, we’d be ok with something like this happening. But we live in a world where having a woman lead the NY Times or the IMF or the Academy or Harvard or maybe, just maybe, our country (in the hopefully not too distant future) still matters a great deal. These role models are how we see the world and when one is kicked off the mountain for no real reason but a bunch of small ones including asking for fair pay, as Jane Campion said at Cannes “women do notice.” We notice that the deck is not stacked fairly.”

Bonus: Jill Abramson and the Mainstreaming of Feminism in American Media — Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic, has a good roundup of great writing on the topic