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March 19: The Grey Lady’s First Lady

March 19, 2015

Screen-Shot-2013-07-31-at-9.35.58-AMJill Ellen Abramson, who in 2011 became the first women executive editor of the New York Times in its 162-year existence, was born in New York on this date in 1954. Abramson joined the paper as Washington bureau chief in 1997, after working for the Wall Street Journal as an investigative reporter. She was terminated as executive editor at the Times after only three years of service (replaced by Dean Baquet, the first African-American to lead the newspaper) due to what she herself called her “management style” and her demands for pay equity between women and men at the paper. “I think that women are scrutinized and criticized in a somewhat different way,” she later told Katie Couric in a television interview, “and that certain qualities that are seen in men as being the qualities of a leader... are somehow not seen in as attractive a light when a woman is involved.” More recently, Abramson was working with journalist Steve Brill on launching a long-form, good-paying outlet for journalists. Among her books are Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas (with Jane Mayer) and The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout. She is currently writing a book (which sold at auction for $1 million) about the future of news and other media.

“I admit that I am hopelessly hooked on the printed newspaper. I love turning the pages and the serendipity of stumbling across a piece of irresistible information or a photograph that I wasn’t necessarily intending to read.” —Jill Abramson