‘Times’ editor Jill Abramson likes ‘snowfalling’ a lot better than ‘native advertising’

Jill Abramson. ()
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Jill Abramson dropped some of the latest lingo being tossed around in The New York Times newsroom during a public appearance at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City this afternoon.

"Snowfall," verb: To execute the type of expensive, time-consuming, longform-narrative multimedia storytelling that earned the Times' ambitious "Snow Fall" feature a Pulitzer last month.

"Everyone wants to snowfall now, every day, all desks," said Abramson, executive editor of the Times, who was being interviewed by Wired editor-in-chief Scott Dadich as part of the magazine's annual business conference. "You have to make sure it's the right story with the right elements."

"Pizza story," noun: A massive breaking-news event that keeps reporters and editors holed up in the Times Eighth Avenue newsroom for extended periods of time. Example: the Boston bombing.

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 "We're gonna be going going going and no one's going to be leaving the newsroom for hours or days" when such stories happen, said Abramson. "So the pizza boxes stack up."

Most of the Abramson interview focused on the rapid ongoing digitization of the news industry, which the Times has been grappling with as readers and advertisers flee print for online and mobile platforms. The Times' primary initiative in mitigating losses in traditional advertising revenue as a result of this migration has been to charge readers for unlimited digital access to its content, a strategy the company is planning to soon tweak with new pricing plans for its most casual and voracious readers.

The Times has also been working on enhancing its video and social media offerings while reviewing the status of its blogs and preparing for a mobile-friendly website overhaul.

But Abramson took care to emphasize that advancing the values of sound journalism is still the chief directive at the Times. She cited the media's recent Boston coverage, which went off the rails at times as news outlets and civilians alike reported inaccurate information in the rush to move the story forward.

Abramson went into the newsroom at 1:15 a.m. on the morning of the manhunt for the suspected bombers to make sure the paper didn't pick up any erroneous reports that might have been floating around.

"What was first and foremost on my mind was that ... no information, not even a news alert, could go up unless the sourcing was up to our standards," she said.

Abramson also took a gentle dig at the concept of "native advertising," which she said was "for the conference set ... It's the buzzword of 2013's business model discussions at conferences"—such as the one at which she was presently speaking.

"Sorry! It is," she said, as the audience laughed.

One topic that wasn't discussed was a recent Politico article that depicted Abramson as "losing the newsroom" for her reportedly brusque manner with staff. There was significant backlash to the piece, which prompted accusations of sexism leveled both at Politico and Dylan Byers, who wrote the article, and the anonymous Times sources who were quoted or characterized with regard to their attitudes toward the boss.

Abramson, meanwhile, has continued to shake up the Times masthead following a transformative round of buyouts earlier this year. Carolyn Ryan, one of the paper's rising stars, was promoted last week from metro editor to politics editor, and various appointments in the Times' European bureaus were recently announced.

Wired was hosting its fifth annual business conference Tuesday as the Conde Nast title celebrates its 20th anniversary. The magazine feted the occasion last night with a splashy party at the New Museum.