Friday, May 16th, 2014

Fun With New York Times Numbers

For all the cloudiness over the really real reasons that Jill Abramson was fired—because she was "brusque"! because she tried to secretly hire another co-managing editor to run digital! because her Times tattoo isn't large enough! not sexism!—there is at least one set of cold, hard data:

As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000. She learned that her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes. She also learned that her salary as Washington bureau chief, from 2000 to 2003, was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her successor in that position, Phil Taubman. (Murphy would say only that Abramson’s compensation was “broadly comparable” to that of Taubman and Geddes.)

To say nothing of inflation. So yes, it is mysterious that the highest ranking woman in print journalism initially making nearly a hundred thousand dollars less than her male predecessor has become the cause célèbre of media.

10 Comments / Post A Comment

theheckle (#621)

In this case, "Broadly Comparable," means paid in dollars. We at the Times pay most women in babies and white wine. You know, stuff they care about.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

In December 2004, the Times stock was trading at $41.00 per share. Today it is at $14.77. The stock has cratered over the last decade. Revenues in 2004 were 3.3 Billion. In 2013, revenues were 1.58 Billion. That is a 50% decline in revenues over the past decade.

I am not one to defend Keller, but the NY Times in 2014 or 2011 is half the company that it was when he took over in 2003. Keller's contract was based on a highly valued company with a bright future. Abramson's contract was based on a company in an unrelenting collapse in a decimated industry.

Should we be surprised that executive compensation has declined in a company that has seen its entire industry collapse over the past decade? Shed all the tears you want over the injustices imposed on the 1%, but I think the cause of social justice lies elsewhere.

Matt Buchanan (#232,205)

@Lockheed Ventura Well, Jill is not responsible for revenues; the C.E.O. and the publisher are. So, give them less money, sure. But edit is edit.

Also, it's a bad look for an industry that already bad optics with respect to how it treats and promotes women and people of color.

alorsenfants (#139)

I can't spend the required time in order to understand this mess — but if it's all about the unfairness of being paid $34,000 less than someone else… when Both are making over $500,000 a year — then I call crocodile tears. Pictures of Abramson's unpleasant expressions do not help the case –

Matt Buchanan (#232,205)

@alorsenfants haha ok

alicesherman (#237,158)

@alorsenfants I like that you brought her 'unpleasant expressions' into this, because that means I can discard anything and everything else you say.

alorsenfants (#139)

@alicesherman Feel free – but I might have made the same observation about anyone of any gender –

Smitros (#5,315)

"Broadly" might not have been a great choice of words on The Times' part.

wtl1983 (#245,123)

I have a question. What was Bill Keller's compensation when he was hired? Is it reasonable to believe that his salary in 2003 was comparable to Abramson's in 2011, and that it was steadily raised over the course of his 8-year tenure? (and that Abramson could have expected similar raises?)

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