Former New York Times Editor Says Women Still Face "Unequal Treatment" At Work
Jill Abramson says there are good things happening in "strange pockets" of the media industry. And she's ready for Hillary.
A year spent working on a book about the American media has left former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson feeling surprisingly positive about the state of journalism.
"I actually think there is more really good quality journalism being produced in all kinds of different journalistic organizations," she said during an interview at BuzzFeed in New York Friday.
"During my years as executive editor, I was very worried about how we find an economic model where we sustain deep investigative reporting, where I supervise reporters who would go for more than a year on a single story. How do we keep that alive," Abramson asked. "It's actually alive, and doing well in different and strange pockets," she said, citing everything from new non-profit news outlets to BuzzFeed News.
She said her old employer is also navigating the new ecosystem well. "I think the Times is the best news organization in the world and has been for quite a while," Abramson said. "They are very much advantaged by the fact that the Sulzberger family protected the newsroom from the type of devastating cuts that paralyzed other newsrooms."
Abramson was abruptly fired from the Times in May 2014, after nearly three years as its top editor. She was the Times' first female executive editor, and her tenure was covered largely through that lens, something she said made her uncomfortable at times.
"I've never been one of those women who says it doesn't matter at all what gender you are. I think there are serious workplace issues involving unequal treatment of women, and double standards applied to women in the workplace," she said. "It's just a level of attention and public spotlight that felt odd to me at the time."
Abramson also said some of the sexism she faced early in her career shaped how she managed the newsroom later, and not always for the better. At the beginning of her career she would make a point in a story meeting, only to have the editor running the meeting attribute the same idea to a man. Even as she rose through the ranks, she still felt like it was difficult to be heard, which later in her career made her "too anxious to talk and speak, and not listen enough — because I was still carrying that 'no one is hearing me' sense."
Abramson now writes a column for the Guardian, and recently wrote that she does believe Hillary Clinton — whom she sparred with at the Times — is "fundamentally honest and trustworthy." In the BuzzFeed News interview, she elaborated, saying, "I feel excited about the idea that she could be president."