May 16, 2014

MORE UGLINESS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Was Sexism Behind Jill Abramson’s Firing?

One of the major explanations offered for her firing is that she started seeking a new manager who would either report to or co-manage with her subordinate, managing editor Dean Baquet, without consulting him. But how often does that result in the subordinate getting his boss fired? Did publisher Arthur Sulzberger view her, consciously or not, as an arrogant woman who shouldn’t be bossing around Baquet?

Some reports said that she was fired after she complained that her predecessor, Bill Keller, had been paid more than she was — a contention that the New York Times disputes. As a good capitalist, I’m sympathetic to any boss who doesn’t want to pay his workers more than the minimum they’ll accept. Still, if you’ve ever met any people on your visit to our planet, you should be prepared for the possibility that this is going to come out — and that on that day, you’re going to have to sheepishly shrug your shoulders and up the pay packet. Especially if you are the New York Times and you have spent so much ink and column space crusading for more equal pay for women. If this report is indeed true, it is deeply troubling.

Most notable of all is the way she was fired. She seems to have been given no opportunity to address the newsroom, no fig leaf to resign, no sinecure consultancy to a department no one cares about. Indeed, management seems to be going out of its way not to say nice things about her. That’s less than Howell Raines got after he presided over the Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg disasters. Which of her offenses was so grave that higher-ups are going to such extraordinary lengths to humiliate her?

Perhaps the reason why people at the New York Times, and in the Obama White House, think that American society is rife with sexism is because that’s how things are — at the New York Times, and in the Obama White House.

But the Times’ problems are much worse than sexism:

The Times currently gets around 6 million page views per day. That is a lot, to be sure. But Power Line averages over 200,000 page views per day. On a big news day, we may get more than 500,000. So day in and day out, the New York Times gets around 30 times the traffic that we do.

No wonder the Times has trouble finding a viable business model! We are four guys running a web site in our spare time. We have no expenses other than hosting fees of around $1,000 a month. We have no payroll and no advertising expenses. And yet the vast, expensive apparatus of the nation’s supposedly premier newspaper can muster only 30 times our traffic.

And the multiple is more like ten or twelve times InstaPundit, which is basically a one-guy operation, with a lot less overhead.

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