Jill Abramson ‘Ouster’: Special Edition Reading List

The Gender Report traditionally provides a weekly round-up of links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. Much electronic ink has been spilled this week over the firing of Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of the New York Times. The dust has yet to settle on the controversies that surround what happened. Rather than add to what has already been said, we’ve compiled a reading list of just some of what has been written. Articles included in this feature do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gender Report or its writers. View past week’s round-ups here. See this week’s general reading list here.

From the New York Times

Times Ousts Jill Abramson as Executive Editor, Elevating Dean Baquet (New York Times)

What Might Leadership Change Mean for Times Readers? (by Margaret Sullivan – New York Times Public Editor)

After Criticism, Times Publisher Details Decision to Oust Top Editor (New York Times)

Seeking Answers

Jill Abramson ousted from New York Times (Politico)

Why Jill Abramson Was Fired (New Yorker)

Was Jill Abramson Fired After Complaining About Pay Discrimination? (Huffington Post)

New York Times Defends Editor’s Sudden Firing, Blaming Her ‘Arbitrary Decision-Making’ (Mashable)

Responses and Commentary

How an historic moment in the news business is undercut by race and gender politics (All Digitocracy)

I Sort of Hope We Find Out That Jill Abramson Was Robbing the Cash Register: Trying to explain a singularly humiliating firing (New Republic)

The Prettiest Girl at the Party: Jill Abramson and the New York Times (Medium)

‘Brilliant,’ ‘respected’ and ‘uniquely powerful’: Some different words about Jill Abramson (Poynter)

To Young Women at the New York Times, Jill Abramson Was Everything  (XX Factor)

Reflections on ‘Editing While Female’

Editing While Female: Field notes from one of journalism’s most dangerous jobs (by Susan Glasser in Politico Magazine)

Jill Abramson Will Never Know Why She Got Fired (by Ann Friedman for NY Mag)

Dear Jill: From One Pushy Media Dame to Another (by Kara Swisher in Re/code)

Examining the State of Women in Journalism

Boys on the bus are back (Politico)

Here’s What Female And Male Journalists Actually Make (Buzzfeed)

With Jill Abramson’s NY Times Ouster, None Of The Ten Largest Papers Are Led By Women (MMFA)

As Jill Abramson exits the NY Times, a look at how women are faring in newsrooms (Pew Research Center)

There have been many more articles written (and are sure to be many more in the near future). Feel free to share others in the comment section below or by emailing genderreport[at]gmail.com.


In Memory: AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus killed in Afghanistan

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, died this week after being shot by an Afghan police officer while on assignment for the Associated Press. Reporter Kathy Gannon, 60, was also injured in the attack, according to news reports.

Both women were seasoned journalists who have spent years in the region, according to the Associated Press. They were traveling with election officials in the Khost province of Afghanistan at the time.

Niedringhaus’ career included stints working in various conflict zones for more than 20 years, earning a Pulitzer Price along with a team of AP photographers in 2005 for coverage of the Iraq war as well as a Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Here is a round-up of coverage of the attack and tributes to Niedringhaus and her work:

Read a bio of Niedringhaus from the International Women’s Media Foundation here, as well as a 2012 interview with both Niedringhaus and Gannon. Read Niedringhaus’ own reflections on her work from 2012 in this piece from Nieman Report: Common Ground. A book of her work “Anja Niedringhaus: At War” was released in 2012.

Update: Other links to coverage shared by readers:

On Politico and the criticism of Jill Abramson

Politico ruffled some feathers this week when it published a piece on Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, that had many questioning whether the story would have been written if she was a man.

This piece published by Politico on Tuesday about New York Times' editor Jill Abramson set off a wave of criticism.
This piece published by Politico on Tuesday about New York Times’ editor Jill Abramson set off a wave of criticism.

The “Turbulence at The Times” story, written by Politico’s Dylan Byers and relying heavily on anonymous sources, argues that the Times’ first female executive editor is “on the verge of losing the support of the newsroom.” She is described throughout the piece as “brusque,” “condescending,” “uncaring,” and “blunt,” though “few doubt her wisdom or her experience.” According to the article, she has a “nasal car honk” voice and she travels a lot (often she’s required). And once she told an editor to change a home page photo in the middle of a meeting by stating, “I don’t know why you’re still here. If I were you, I would leave now and change the photo.”

Many took Politico to task via Twitter and other platforms regarding the perceived sexism of the piece. Twitter comments included those from writer Lisa McIntire who said, “I struggle to find any specific behavior of Abramson’s that is critiqued here other than the tone of her voice” and feminist author Jessica Valentia who said, “This breathtakingly sexist Politico article does all but accuse Jill Abramson of attracting bears with her period” (See there other Twitter comments here and here). Hanna Rosin, writing for Slate, argued that the piece is “pretty thin” and “possibly sexist.” Emily Bell in the Guardian wrote, “The lame nature of the reporting suggests it might be better just to ignore the piece entirely, but it deserves attention, as it fuels an exasperating and wholly sexist narrative about women in power.”

Some have pointed out that numerous Times’ (male) editors have been criticized over the years. Byers responded to some of the criticism (specifically Bell’s) and stated that he “spoke with more than a dozen staffers from across the newsroom, male and female, old and young. They all voiced similar complaints, and said that those complaints were deeply felt and widespread.”

However, the difference with this piece, as Jessica Bennett argues on Jezebel, is that it’s not a story about her competence, but instead is about her “likability” in a leadership position. Several authors pointed to research in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, that talks about how for women success and likeability are negatively correlated. For women in leadership, this “double bind” plays out often, Sandberg writes on page 41 of her book, “When a woman excels at her job, both male and female coworkers will remark that she may be accomplishing a lot but is ‘not well-liked’ by her peers.”

Sandberg and others point to the Heidi/Howard case study which found that just changing the name (and, therefore, the sex) of the leader described altered people’s perceptions – he was more appealing and she was selfish and “not the type of person you would want to hire or work for” (Sandberg, p. 40). As a result, many questioned whether the same story would have been written or if Abramson would be perceived the same way if her name were “Joe” or “Jack” instead of “Jill.” (For an interesting piece comparing descriptions, see Ann Friedman’s “If Jill Abramson where a man…“).

Also in response to Politico’s piece, media critic Erik Wemple published an equally sourced piece arguing that Politico’s “men’s club” has its own gender issues to worry about.

As for Abramson herself, in an email sent to Rosin she responded by sharing her horoscope from the day of the article, “You will need to put on a brave face today, especially if you get news that seems to be the opposite of what you were hoping to hear. The important word there is “seems,” because most likely it IS good news after all.”

Here is a round-up of articles on Politico’s piece:

Politico: NYT Boss Lady Too Bossy (Women’s Media Center)

Jill Abramson: ‘Very Unpopular’ Or Just Doing Her Job? (Huffington Post)

Politico’s ‘turbulence’ story about New York Times’ Jill Abramson: All wind (Poynter)

More reactions to Politico’s ‘Turbulence at The Times’ story (Poynter)

Jill Abramson and the wholly sexist narrative of the woman in power (Guardian)

You Don’t Know Jill: Politico’s story about New York Times editor Jill Abramson is wrong and possibly sexist (Slate)

If Jill Abramson were a man… (by Ann Friedman)

What If Jill Abramson Were Joe? (Jezebel)

Reporting on industry gossip: How Politico should have reported the “turbulence” at The New York Times (Columbia Journalism Review)

Newsroom B*tches, An Appreciation (by Debra PIckett)

The double bind for Jill Abramson and other women at the top (Washington Post)

Can Politico spot gender issues? (by Erik Wemple at the Washington Post)

Women held record gains, influence in election

On November 6, most Americans focused their attention on the presidential election results. However, many state and congressional races also will influence the next four years. The Gender Report has previously looked at the influence of women in politics, notably the lack of women in elected office.This year, those numbers are starting to improve.

A Washington Post multimedia project highlights the female senators and their projected significance in governance. Click the image to go to this project.

The 2012 election brought a record-number of women to office; 1 in 5 senators are now female (a gain of 3 seats), and the first Asian American, as well as openly gay, women were elected to represent Hawaii and Wisconsin, respectively. A Washington Post multimedia project highlighted the female senators and their projected significance in governance. In addition, New Hampshire became the first state to elect an all-female delegation, including the only female democratic governor. In the House of Representatives, 77  seats will be held by women (a gain of four representatives).

Presidential Influence

Despite their gains for their own seats and victories, much of the media coverage of the election instead focused on the influence of female voters on the top of the ticket. According to research from the Huffington Post, for the first time in research dating to 1952, a presidential candidate whom men chose decisively – Republican Mitt Romney – lost. While Obama’s victory was attributed partly to high minority turnout and support, he won the female vote 54 to 45 nationally and also in every swing state(compared to his 56 to 43 showing in 2008). In one Washington Post article, female supporters of Gov. Mitt Romney said they couldn’t trust him to be true to his campaign promises, an issue women voters consider more signficant than their male counterparts. Gallup polling has tracked the gender gap since 1952, and said this year’s gender divide was 20 percentage points, the largest ever using its method of calculation.

The Huffington Post called 2013 the “New Year of the Woman.” For the time being, the most attention will be on Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the role she will play in the upcoming deficit deliberations in Congress.

Also of note was the loss of two male candidates who made incendiary comments about rape and women’s health in the weeks leading up to the election. Rep. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, both republicans, made headlines for their separate comments about “legitimate rape” and abortions being god-sent, and were both defeated. Some analysts attribute the nationalized attention to their comments to the already debated “war on women” of the republican party.

Presidential debates: First female moderator in 20 years announced

For the first time in 20 years, a woman will moderate a presidential debate.

It was confirmed Monday that CNN’s Candy Crowley will moderate the second of three presidential debates this fall. A woman, Martha Raddatz of ABC, will also moderate the vice-presidential debate.

Candy Crowley
(Click on the photo to learn more)

The first and last time a woman moderated a presidential debate was former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson in 1992. A woman has hosted vice-presidential debates in that time — PBS’s Gwen Ifill in 2004 and 2008.

The Commission on Presidential Debates fell under scrutiny for this lack of female moderators when three teens, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis, campaigned to end the 20 year drought via Change.org petitions (see here and here) that collectively garnered more than 180,000 signatures. They had tried to deliver their petition to the CPD, but had been turned away. However, their effort gained support from a number of high profile politicians, such as U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Simpson herself also spoke out on the issue in an op-ed for the Boston Globe.

Following the release of the names of this year’s moderators, the girls announced victory on their main petition’s website.

“Through this campaign, millions of Americans learned that two decades passed without a woman moderating a U.S. presidential debate,” Axelrod said in the statement. “We are so proud to have helped educate Americans on this issue, and are extremely happy that women and girls watching the debates this year will see a potential role model up on the stage moderating.”

The announcement definitely demonstrated a step in the right direction.Several write-ups and Twitter comments on the moderator selections were quick to note gender parity with two women among this year’s four moderators. In addition to Crowley and Raddatz, Jim Lehrer of PBS News Hour (who has been a frequent moderator) and Bob Schieffer of CBS News will each moderate a presidential debate.

While this would seem to be an even split, it may not be actual parity. As The Caucus blog noted, “the announcement still fell short of some expectations.” According to the debate format descriptions, both Lehrer and Schieffer will moderate the two traditional debates at the highest level. In these debates, the moderator selects the topics and questions. In contrast, Crowley will host the only town-hall style debate in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates and the moderator will “facilitate discussion.” And, as previously noted, Raddatz is hosting the vice-presidential debate. In other words, the two debates between the highest level candidates where the moderator has the most influence and say will still be moderated by men.

And while gender diversity may be accounted for in this year’s line up, Eric Deggans has noted that the debates will have no non-white moderators for the first time since 1996.

Read more about the moderator announcement in the write-ups below: