UPDATE #2: Abramson already off the Times masthead. The New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. stunned the newsroom this afternoon with the announcement that Executive Editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to lead the paper of record, is being replaced by Managing Editor Dean Baquet. By 5 P.M. New York time, the Times masthead already had been updated to reflect the change. Baquet becomes the first African-American to lead the Times. No specific reason was given for the abrupt move, but grumblings about Abramson’s management style, which many staffers complained was aloof and dismissive, as well as whispers about her run-ins with the paper’s business-side chief, Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, had been circulating among the chatterati for months.
According to The Times, Sulzberger told senior editors in a gathering at a conference room Wednesday afternoon and then addressed the full newsroom around 2:30 p.m. EDT. All he said after the official announcement, according to reporters who were there, was that “we had an issue with management in the newsroom.” I guess so. One insider with knowledge of the last-minute negotiations said that Abramson was adamant about not saying she was leaving “to pursue other options.”
A one-time investigative reporter and D.C. bureau chief at the paper, Abramson won the top job in 2011. Her official comment suggested that she is leaving the paper completely. “I’ve loved my run at The Times,” she said in a … Read More »
Starting in April non-subscribers will only be able to see 10 articles, slide shows or videos a month for free, down from 20, the paper says this morning. If you want more, then you’ll have to buy one of The Times’ digital subscriptions. Now brace yourself for the caveats: Even if you’re past the limit, you can still see an article for free if you reach it via a search engine, or an email or blog link — but you can only see five a day from some unnamed search engines. The NYTimes.com home page and section fronts also will be free to browse. Smartphone and tablet users will be able to see top news stories for free — but will have to subscribe to see anything else.
The Times tried to spin the news as sign of how well it’s doing in the digital world. One year after it erected its pay wall, the paper has 454,000 paid digital subscribers. “We knew that readers placed a high value on our journalism, and we anticipated they would respond positively to our digital subscription packages,” Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr says. Still, he has a lot riding on his ability to nudge online readers to pay — without giving print customers an incentive to switch to a lower-priced digital-only subscription. Read More »
Arthur Sulzberger Jr will become interim CEO until the newspaper company can find someone else to take on one of the most thankless jobs in media. While The New York Times Co has managed its transition to the digital world better than just about any other newspaper company, it’s still a newspaper company. And as that industry has faded, so have its profits and prospects. The New York Times’ market value is down 23% so far in 2011 — and down 69% since the end of 2006. Still, Robinson leaves with a sweet deal. She’ll be paid $4.5M over the next year to serve as a consultant on what the company calls “an as-needed basis.” But she can’t compete with the Times, hire away its employees, or bad-mouth the company for three years. Here’s the company’s release:
NEW YORK–Dec. 15, 2011– The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) announced today that Janet L. Robinson, 61, president and chief executive officer since 2004, will retire on December 31, 2011. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., currently chairman of the Company and publisher of The New York Times, will serve as chief executive officer on an interim basis. Ms. Robinson also will step down as a director of the Company on December 31, 2011. She has agreed to serve as a consultant to the Company for one year.
Read More »