Sulzburger jr writes: Silly you, the Times isn’t sexist!

Arthur Sulzburger’s new letter defending the firing of Jill Abramson is condescending and offensive.I’m going to go through it here, and then paste the whole text at the end of this blog. What is so amazing to me is that you’d think  Sulzburger would, at the very least, address the gender inequity at the Times and then claim that Abramson’s firing has nothing to do with it. Instead, he acts as if the New York Times is a utopia where sexism doesn’t exist. It’s a strange ploy when the sexism at the Times has been well documented, most recently as having the worst gender inequality on record as far as male/ female bylines of all the top circulating newspapers in the USA.

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So it begins:

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.

 

We just can’t accept reality, that is the problem, the sad thing about the story.

He goes on:

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.

Sulzburger’s use of “comparable” is comparable (ha ha) to his spokesperson Eileen Murphy’s earlier use of the phrase that Abramson’s package wasn’t “meaningfully less” than Keller’s was. Let me ask you this: Who has ever negotiated a salary or negotiated anything, for that matter, and believes that numbers were not “comparable” or had no “meaningful” difference? That’s what negotiations are, haggling over differences of amounts which one negotiator claims is insignificant and the other claims it’s actually a big deal. And if that number difference is so insignificant and not a big deal, except to a finicky little crybaby, why would a different number have been offered at all? If it really doesn’t matter, the same amount should be offered, right?

Next, Sulzburger writes:

But it doesn’t help to advance the goal of pay equality to cite the case of a female executive whose compensation was not in fact unequal.

 

Silly us, we’re “not helping” but really missing the point. We’re focusing on just one manager who just happens to be a woman. It’s us that are being sexist, asking for special treatment for girls, when the pay was barely unequal in the first place. Not only this tone more of the condescending denial drivel, but Sulzburger doesn’t address that Abramson asked for more money, then she was fired.

Next, he writes:

Jill is an outstanding journalist and editor, but with great regret, I concluded that her management of the newsroom was simply not working out.

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.

So here Sulzburger writes that “women and men” complained about Abramson, as if the face that women complained as well implies complaining about Abramson’s management style has nothing to do with sexism. This, when it’s well documented that both “women and men” have negative responses to assertive female leader. Again, what is so disturbing about Sulzburger’s letter is he doesn’t acknowledge– or even see to get– systemic sexism exist and the New York Times is not immune.

Moving on:

Since my announcement on Wednesday I have had many opportunities to talk to and hear reactions from my colleagues in the newsroom.   While surprised by the timing, they understood the decision and the reasons I had to make it.

 

Is he acknowledging that it’s fucked up to fire Abramson right after she asked for a raise?

The conclusion makes me want to throw up:

We are very proud of our record of gender equality at The New York Times.  Many of our key leaders – both in the newsroom and on the business side – are women.  So too are many of our rising stars.  They do not look for special treatment, but expect to be treated with the same respect as their male colleagues.  For that reason they want to be judged fairly and objectively on their performance.  That is what happened in the case of Jill.

Equality is at the core of our beliefs at The Times.  It will always be.

To see Reel Girl’s posts on sexism at the New York Times click here.

Sulzburger’s full letter is pasted below.

 

Since my announcement on Wednesday I have had many opportunities to talk to and hear reactions from my colleagues in the newsroom.   While surprised by the timing, they understood the decision and the reasons I had to make it.

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.

Equal pay for women is an important issue in our country – one that The New York Times often covers.  But it doesn’t help to advance the goal of pay equality to cite the case of a female executive whose compensation was not in fact unequal.

I decided that Jill could no longer remain as executive editor for reasons having nothing to do with pay or gender.  As publisher, my paramount duty is to ensure the continued quality and success of The New York Times.  Jill is an outstanding journalist and editor, but with great regret, I concluded that her management of the newsroom was simply not working out.

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.

Since my announcement on Wednesday I have had many opportunities to talk to and hear reactions from my colleagues in the newsroom.   While surprised by the timing, they understood the decision and the reasons I had to make it.

We are very proud of our record of gender equality at The New York Times.  Many of our key leaders – both in the newsroom and on the business side – are women.  So too are many of our rising stars.  They do not look for special treatment, but expect to be treated with the same respect as their male colleagues.  For that reason they want to be judged fairly and objectively on their performance.  That is what happened in the case of Jill.

Equality is at the core of our beliefs at The Times.  It will always be.

We are very proud of our record of gender equality at The New York Times

One thought on “Sulzburger jr writes: Silly you, the Times isn’t sexist!

  1. good take on this saga. I’m still digesting it and yes, i’m disgusted too. He cites that she “just wasn’t working out” and proof was that he heard complaints. has he ever had an editor about whom nobody ever complained? it is so hard to imagine that this has nothing to do with the bossy boss being complained about was a woman, i.e. bossy – b/c men are never called bossy, just tough (i.e. good). so much more i could say on this… thanks for weighing in.

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