Details of Abramson salary gap emerge

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Jill Abramson. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
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Jeremy Barr

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New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta reported Thursday evening that former New York Times executive Jill Abramson earned a smaller base salary than her male predecessor, Bill Keller.

"As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000," Auletta reported. "Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000."

The numbers come a day after Auletta wrote that Abramson had confronted Times brass about her pay compared to her male colleagues. He also reported that Abramson hired a lawyer to discuss her perceived pay inequity.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy continued to assert that there was, "no real compensation gap," but, Auletta wrote, she conceded that the incident contributed to Abramson's dismissal as it was "part of a pattern."

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In a staff memo Thursday, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. had attempted to throw water on the notion of a pay disparity.

"It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors," he said. "Her pay is comparable to that of earlier executive editors."

According to Auletta's sources, Abramson also earned less than a male counterpart, managing editor for news operations John Geddes, when she served as managing editor, and her salary as Washington bureau chief trailed her successor there by $100,000.

In addition to the pay figures, Auletta also dug up an April 28 email from Times Company C.E.O. Mark Thompson to Abramson that confirmed earlier reports that the paper was pursuing Guardian U.S. editor Janine Gibson for a high ranking digital editorial role. The potential hire reportedly rankled Abramson's top lieutenant, and eventual successor, Dean Baquet. The email seems to indicate just how rapidly Abramson's relationship with the paper's management deteriorated.

"40 mins on phone to Janine…. I told her there really was a new spirit in the newsroom and she buys that and has been impressed by what’s been achieved recently," Thompson wrote. "She reveres you and will need convincing that you’re going to sign up for some more years as Editor. I told her I was doing my best to persuade you that you should! … I’ll see her again when she’s in next week."