According to Ken Auletta at The New Yorker, Abramson was fired when she found out she was being systematically paid less than her male predecessors. New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., appears to deny this. Can these statements be reconciled with one another? Yes…though Sulzberger seems to be parsing his words rather carefully.
Here is Sulzberger’s statement:
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.
The first obvious point is inflation. The Consumer Price Index has risen about 9% since 2010. So the true inflation-adjusted value of Abramson’s total compensation might have been just about exactly the same.
But compensation includes not just salary, but stocks and other incentives. And the New York Times Company’s stock price has nearly doubled since 2010:
Depending on how stock-related compensation was structured, this means that the stock-related aspect of her compensation may have risen quite a bit since Keller had the job. Which means that Abramson’s salary (plus bonuses) was almost certainly lower than Bill Keller’s. This is entirely consistent with Auletta’s reporting.
Maybe that’s because she didn’t gin up a war?