|Shakeup at New York Times leaves questions
The New York Times abruptly replaced its first female executive editor, Jill Abramson, on Wednesday and named managing editor Dean Baquet as the first African American in the top editorial post.
Abramson's departure was announced by the US daily's publisher Arthur Sulzberger, and the paper's own report said: "The reasons for the switch were not immediately clear.''
The sudden departure left many questions unanswered both inside and outside one of the nation's most prestigious news organizations, AFP reports.
The New Yorker cited unnamed sources as saying that Abramson quit after a confrontation over her pay, said to be lower than Bill Keller, her predecessor as executive editor and previously managing editor.
"She confronted top brass,'' the magazine cited a close associate as saying, adding that this may have fed into the management's narrative that Abramson was ''pushy.''
The report was backed by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, who said he had confirmed Abramson "did indeed challenge corporate brass over what she saw as unequal pay'' and that Times staff wondered if gender had a role in her ouster.
But the Times disputed that account.
"From the start, Jill's compensation as executive editor was directly comparable to Bill Keller's compensation as executive editor,'' spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told AFP.
"Today's change in leadership was a result of Arthur Sulzberger's concern about aspects of newsroom management.''
Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy said the departure appeared irregular.
"This was definitely not a normal change,'' Kennedy told AFP.
"Abramson did not address the staff and was all but hustled out of the building. The explanation that Arthur Sulzberger offered about newsroom management seems completely inadequate.''
Dan Gillmor, a journalism faculty member at the Arizona State University, also expressed skepticism.
"If top exec in any other important industry left under mysterious circumstances, #NYTimes would launch a team of reporters to find out why,'' he tweeted.
Alan Mutter, a former newspaper editor who is now a consultant, said of the abrupt change: "We don't know if she jumped or was pushed but the meager information available suggests the latter.''
Mutter added that the ouster "suggests a dissatisfaction with either her style and/or performance as a manager -- and probably does not reflect a reaction to the ongoing secular challenges facing newspapers in general and the Times in particular.''