Delicious: New York Times Accused of Underpaying Top Woman
A New York Times house editorial, April 10, 2014:
Wage injustice matters to all Americans, regardless of party, and those who stand in the way of fairness do so at their political peril.
The New York Times dismissed its executive editor, Jill Abramson, Wednesday, sending powerful shockwaves through the Acela Corridor media world and no noticeable ripple through the rest of the country. Now, in the predictable post-dismissal recriminations, we learn that the New York Times, valiant crusader against “wage injustice,” was paying its female top editor “considerably less” than previous male top editors. (What, was the Times paying 77 cents for every dollar it paid the men?)
Who knew the Old Gray Lady was fighting a war on women?
As with any such upheaval, there’s a history behind it. Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson 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. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect. Sulzberger is known to be believe that the Times, as a financially beleaguered newspaper, has had to retreat on some of its generous pay and pension benefits; Abramson had also been at the Times for many fewer years than Keller, having spent much of her career at the Wall Street Journal, accounting for some of the pension disparity. (I was also told by another friend of hers that the pay gap with Keller has since been closed.) But, to women at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories. Whether Abramson was right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy.
Sulzberger’s frustration with Abramson was growing. She had already clashed with the company’s C.E.O., Mark Thompson, over native advertising and the perceived intrusion of the business side into the newsroom. Publicly, Thompson and Abramson denied that there was any tension between them, as Sulzberger today declared that there was no church-state—that is, business-editorial—conflict at the Times. A politician who made such implausible claims might merit a front-page story in the Times.
Naturally, to get the scoop about what’s really going on within the New York Times, you have to read The New Yorker magazine. The poor Times even gets scooped about what’s going on within its own offices.
For what it’s worth, after the New Yorker ran this item, the Times later issued a statement that Abramson’s pay was “directly comparable” to her predecessors. Of course, a small number is “directly comparable” to a big number; any two sums can be “directly compared.”
Ace reminds them that President Obama hasn’t been campaigning on “directly comparable pay.” John Ekdahl collected one painfully ironic Times headline after another.
In another spectacular example of the New York Times leadership refusing to behave in the manner it demands from others, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik reported,
[Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the Times] ordered top news executives and officials not to speak even to colleagues about grounds for rupture with Abramson.
Transparency is for the little people!