Is Jill Abramson already on her way to losing the loyalty of the New York Times staff? Or are New York Times staffers just "whiny" and sexist?
That's the debate that has sprung up after the publication of a new piece in Politico, in which anonymous staffers complain that Abramson is "very, very unpopular."
The hero of the Times is apparently managing editor Dean Baquet, a man who has had the word "beloved" attached to his name in news profiles for many years. He has won the loyalty of the staff even though he admits to doing things like slamming his hands against a wall after an argument with Abramson, or driving his fist through a different wall in Washington, D.C.
There is no similar account of Abramson's wrath. Her sins appear to consist of "blowing up" at people in meetings, telling them to change pictures on the homepage in a brusque manner, and being away at periods when newsroom morale is down.
It has been, in some ways, a difficult time at the paper. The Times has been through another round of buyouts, losing some of its top managers in the process. There was also a lengthy, contentious set of negotiations with the paper's union.
But the Times has also just won four Pulitzer Prizes. The paywall that Abramson was crucial in conceiving has been a success. The paper is still the leading news organization in the country, and by far the leading newspaper. No staffers in the Politico piece had any apparent qualms with Abramson's news judgment.
Some observers on Twitter sensed a whiff of sexism in the Politico piece:
Holy mother of pearl, I can't tell if this is the writer being abjectly sexist, or his sources. Or both. Ugh. politico.com/story/2013/04/…
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) April 24, 2013
jill abramson once sent a withering glance in my general direction #probablyawitch
— Atrios (@Atrios) April 24, 2013
Others wondered what the big deal was:
A perfect example of why journalism about journalism is often the worst journalism:politico.com/story/2013/04/…
— Raju Narisetti (@rajunarisetti) April 24, 2013