Jill Abramson being replaced by Dean Baquet at Times

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Jill Abramson. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
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In an abrupt and unexpected move, The New York Times announced today that executive editor Jill Abramson will be leaving her position in the top masthead slot, to be replaced by her managing editor, Dean Baquet.

A full newsroom meeting was called immediately after the news went out around 2:30 this afternoon.

The paper's publisher, Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., did not specify the reason precisely, but said it did not have to do with the business side. He characterized the change as having been prompted by management issues in the newsroom.

"And that's all I'm going to say about it," said Sulzberger, according to two sources who were present. "It was an issue of newsroom management."

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About 10 minutes before the meeting, Sulzberger had sent a memo to staff announcing the change, writing: "This appointment comes at a time when the newsroom is about to embark on a significant effort to transition more fully to a digital-first reality and where, across the organization, we are all learning to adapt to the rapid pace of change in our business."

As Capital first reported last week, Sulzberger's son, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, a journalist at the paper, revealed the conclusions of an "innovation report" he'd spent months working on with several colleagues. The report called for "further structural changes in the newsroom to achieve a digital first reality."

Abramson, 60, was the paper's first female executive editor, a role she assumed in September 2011 after her predecessor, Bill Keller, stepped down. Over the course of her time as executive editor, there were complaints from some Times insiders about her management style, which were detailed in a controversial POLITICO piece last April. But neither did Abramson want for fans within the newsroom.

"She was important to us all," one said.

Baquet, 57, becomes the first African-American executive editor at the Times.

"I'll be around. I'll be hands-on. I'll be walking the aisles. It's the only way I know how to edit," Baquet told staff during the meeting, according to our sources.

A Times spokesperson confirmed to Capital that Abramson, a veteran Times hand who has also worked at The Wall Street Journal, will not remain at the paper. Times sources said they did not see her at the 2:30 newsroom meeting.

“I've loved my run at The Times. I got to work with the best journalists in the world doing so much stand-up journalism. Holding powerful institutions accountable is the mission of The Times and the hallmark of my time as executive editor," Abramson said in a statement.

“We successfully blazed trails on the digital frontier and we have come so far in inventing new forms of story-telling. Our masthead became half female for the first time and so many great women hold important newsroom positions. Dean has been my partner in all this and he will be a great executive editor."

The press release is below. We'll have more as this develops...

The New York Times announced today that Dean Baquet has been named executive editor, effective immediately. Mr. Baquet, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has been managing editor at The Times since September 2011, succeeds Jill Abramson.

In making the announcement, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of The New York Times and chairman of The New York Times Company, said, “There is no journalist in our newsroom or elsewhere better qualified to take on the responsibilities of executive editor at this time than Dean Baquet. He is an exceptional reporter and editor with impeccable news judgment who enjoys the confidence and support of his colleagues around the world and across the organization.”

Mr. Baquet said, “It is an honor to be asked to lead the only newsroom in the country that is actually better than it was a generation ago, one that approaches the world with wonder and ambition every day. The talented journalists of The New York Times make it the greatest news operation in history and I look forward to working with them to deliver the world’s most engaging and enterprising journalism.”

Mr. Sulzberger continued, “Jill Abramson has my sincere thanks for not just preserving and extending the excellence of our news report during her time as executive editor, but also for inspiring her colleagues to adjust their approach to how we deliver the news. Her leadership helped further The Times down the path to our digital future, particularly with her embrace and oversight of new platforms and products like The Upshot, NYT Now and NYT5.”

Ms. Abramson said, “I've loved my run at The Times. I got to work with the best journalists in the world doing so much stand-up journalism. Holding powerful institutions accountable is the mission of The Times and the hallmark of my time as executive editor, whether stories about China, government secrecy, or powerful figures and corporations.”

Ms. Abramson continued, “We successfully blazed trails on the digital frontier and we have come so far in inventing new forms of story-telling. Our masthead became half female for the first time and so many great women hold important newsroom positions. Dean has been my partner in all this and he will be a great executive editor. I thank Arthur, who has been a steadfast protector of our journalism, for the chance to serve.”

Mr. Sulzberger added, “Our business continues its digital transformation and in our newsroom, we are moving fast to a digital first reality. With Jill, Dean was closely involved in the work of our newsroom innovation team over the past six months, which helped to outline how we can best organize to extend our tradition of innovation and excellence into the future. I’m very pleased that he will now lead that work as executive editor.”