If Politico is to be believed, there is trouble brewing at the New York Times. The story by Dylan Byers, "Turbulence at The Times," focuses on resentment amongst the newspaper's staff over executive editor Jill Abramson's leadership.
The exposée begins with an anecdote — a fight between Abramson and managing editor Dean Baquet — that spills into the newsroom. It goes on to recount numerous tales of bruised egos and dangerously low morale from anonymous staffers at the country's newspaper of record. Quotes from Times staffers paint Abramson as a tyrant repeatedly.
“Every editor has a story about how she’s blown up in a meeting,” one reporter said. “Jill can be impossible,” said another staffer.
Abramson has been notably absent — or “AWOL,” as several staffers put it — at key periods when the Times required leadership. “The Times is leaderless right now,” one staffer said. “Jill is very, very unpopular.”
This depiction of Abramson is notably different than coverage when she was named the newspaper's first female editor a year and a half ago. She was hailed as the newspaper's savior, the New York Observer even depicting her as the Grey Lady's patron saint. But, taking a look back, The New Yorker's profile contains some foreshadowing:
Abramson had previously been the paper’s managing editor, and many in the newsroom considered her to be intimidating and brusque; she was too remote and, they thought, slightly similar to an earlier executive editor, the talented but volcanic Howell Raines, who had also begun the job right after Labor Day, in 2001. After less than two years, Raines was forced out, and his memory is still cursed.
That comparison still exists, and makes its way into Byers' story:
“It’s beginning to reach Howell Raines-like proportions,” one staffer said, referring to the former executive editor who, from 2001 to 2003, is reported to have ruled the paper through humiliation and fear before being forced to resign after the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal.
But how much of the story is true and how much is exaggerated? The job of a newspaper reporter is certainly not an easy one; a recent study named newspaper reporter the absolute worst job to have. And most of stories in the article seem more to depict a tough boss than an absolute tyrant. Morale has not been very good at the Times for a while now either. So it's a bit hard to tell how much of this is Abramson's fault at all.
Whether or not her leadership skills leave something to be desired, Abramson is certainly doing something right: the Times was awarded an impressive four Pulitzers just last week.
[image via Getty]