Jill Abramson’s dream epitaph: She kept The New York Times ‘straight’

Jill Abramson. ()
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With a team of New York Times reporters aggressively investigating the BBC scandal in which their parent company's brand new C.E.O., ex-BBC chief Mark Thompson, has been implicated, you'd think there might be some awkwardness between Thompson and the newsroom.

Not so, according to Times executive editor Jill Abramson.

Abramson was asked this afternoon about the "drama" unfolding within the Times' Eighth Avenue headquarters as a result of the saga at the BBC, which is under fire for killing a documentary, during Thompson's tenure, about alleged sexual abuses by the late former host Jimmy Savile.

"What happens when you see Mark Thompson in the building?" Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget asked Abramson. "Do people hiss at him?

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"Hardly," said Abramson, who noted that she's already had meetings with Thompson and that he "seems full of energy and ideas. ... There have been other stories where the Times has had to cover ourselves. When I was at The Wall Street Journal that was true too."

Abramson, dressed in knee high black boots and a gray sweater over a purple dress, was speaking at Business Insider's third annual Ignition conference at the Time Warner Center.

It's been a little more that a year since she took the helm of the paper of record, and Blodget wanted to know if she felt like she'd been making waves.

"Usually, when I take my dog out in the morning and we go to a dog run, invariably people are arguing about the [Sunday] Review," said Abramson. "And if we become regulars at that dog run, they're waiting to pounce on me."

But the ever effusive Business Insider boss saved some of his best ammunition for later on in the chat, asking Abramson when she thinks the Times print edition will cease to exist.

"I just really believe that there is a big appetite for both products," said Abramson. "We have 800-and-some thousand people who have subscribed to the newspaper for two years or more. They still find it indispensable to their day and to their lives. No one can predict that there will always be a robust appetite for both these things, but for foreseeable future, I think I'm going to be putting out the best news report in journalism that will be both in newspaper form and all kinds of digital forms."

And Abramson's legacy? What does she hope people will think about her reign at the Times after it comes to and end?

"I want people to say that I protected and expanded the depth and breadth of our news report," she said, "and some version of what [former Times executive editor] Abe Rosenthal said he wanted on his tombstone was that he kept the paper straight. It's not just the paper now, but I want them to think I kept the place straight."

We have more from Abramson's interview here.