NYT Memo Denies Salary Discrepancy Was Reason Behind Jill Abramson Firing

An internal memo sent out by New York Times’ CEO decries The New Yorker’s report of a pay gap

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Just one day after the New Yorker published a blistering report uncovering substantial differences between Jill Abramson’s salary and her male predecessors, The New York Times is denying that pay discrepancy led to the editor’s firing.

In a memo sent out to a select group of NYT staffers Friday, Times CEO Mark Thompson decried the article that suggested Abramson was ousted for speaking out about her pay, according to Politico.

“There are many who want to believe that pay was somehow a factor. It just wasn’t. Despite all you may have read or heard, Jill’s compensation was in fact greater than [her predecessor] Bill Keller‘s,” The memo said. “Nor is it true that Jill’s unhappiness with her compensation was a factor. The record shows that even until very late in the day the company was trying to address that unhappiness – not because Jill was being unfairly compensated relative to previous incumbents but because we all wanted an Executive Editor who was fully engaged and focused on the task in hand.”

Also readGlenn Greenwald Slams NY Times, New Editor Dean Baquet Over Jill Abramson Firing

The memo was a response to Ken Auletta of the New Yorker’s story published late Thursday night. The numbers Auletta uncovered paint a different picture: while at the New York Times in 2011, Abramson’s salary was $475,000 compared to Keller’s $559,000. It was raised only after Abramson took issue with her pay — once to $503,000 and again to $525,000, which was still $34,000 under Keller’s 2011 salary.

Furthermore, Auletta reports that Abramson’s salary as managing editor  — $398,000 — was lower than her news editor, John Geddes. When she was Washington bureau chief, Abramson’s salary was nearly $100,000 below her eventual successor, Phil Taubman.

A few weeks ago, Abramson hired a lawyer as a response to her salary gap, the New Yorker said.

Also read: Why Jill Abramson’s Firing Will Hurt the NY Times

According to a Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy, the key here is compensation. She told Politico that when equity and bonuses were added into the equation, Abramson earned more in 2013 than Keller ever did as executive editor.

​”Executives at the New York Times receive compensation packages that include salary, bonus and equity,” Murphy told TheWrap. “It is the​ combination of those things ​that ​equals an​ executive’s total pay. That is the relevant figure for Jill ​Abramson ​during her time here. Salary is just one part of it.”