Sulzberger speaks on pay-gap flap

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

New York Times publisher and Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. hit back Thursday at a report the previous day suggesting part of the reason he fired executive editor Jill Abramson was because she complained her compensation package was lower than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller.

"It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors," Sulzberger wrote this afternoon in a memo to staff obtained by Capital. "Her pay is comparable to that of earlier executive editors. In fact, in 2013, her last full year in the role, her total compensation package was more than 10% higher than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, in his last full year as Executive Editor, which was 2010. It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.

"This Company is fully committed to equal treatment of all its employees, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or any other characteristic," the memo continued. "We are working hard to live up to that principle in every part of our organization. I am satisfied that we fully lived up to that commitment with regard to Jill."

Sulzberger was responding to a widely circulated New Yorker item by Ken Auletta, who wrote: "Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs."

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

A Times spokesperson had pushed back on the report yesterday, but in less detail.

Sulzberger stunned the media world with his abrupt and unexpected Wednesday afternoon announcement that he had dismissed Abramson over "newsroom management" issues less than three years into her executive editorship.

Abramson has been replaced by her erstwhile No. 2, Dean Baquet.

Sulzberger's full memo is below:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you because I am concerned about the misinformation that has been widely circulating in the media since I announced Jill Abramson’s departure yesterday. I particularly want to set the record straight about Jill’s pay as Executive Editor of The Times.

It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors. Her pay is comparable to that of earlier executive editors. In fact, in 2013, her last full year in the role, her total compensation package was more than 10% higher than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, in his last full year as Executive Editor, which was 2010. It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.

Comparisons between the pensions of different executive editors are difficult for several reasons. Pensions are based upon years of service with the Company. Jill’s years of service were significantly fewer than those of many of her predecessors. Secondly, as you may know, pension plans for all managers at The New York Times were frozen in 2009. But this and all other pension changes at the Company have been applied without any gender bias and Jill was not singled out or differentially disadvantaged in any way.

Compensation played no part whatsoever in my decision that Jill could not remain as executive editor. Nor did any discussion about compensation. The reason – the only reason – for that decision was concerns I had about some aspects of Jill’s management of our newsroom, which I had previously made clear to her, both face-to-face and in my annual assessment.

This Company is fully committed to equal treatment of all its employees, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or any other characteristic. We are working hard to live up to that principle in every part of our organization. I am satisfied that we fully lived up to that commitment with regard to Jill.

Arthur