New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Says Jill Abramson's Pay Not A Factor In Her Firing

05/15/2014 01:58 pm ET | Updated May 16, 2014

NEW YORK -- New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told staff Thursday that he wanted to "set the record straight" about ousted New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson's compensation, in the wake of reports she confronted management over not being paid equally to her male predecessor.

"It is simply not true that Jill’s compensation was significantly less than her predecessors," Sulzberger wrote in a memo obtained by The Huffington Post.

"Her pay is comparable to that of earlier executive editors," he continued. "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. It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.

Sulzberger said that comparisons between executive editors was difficult because pension benefits are based on years at the Times and the plans themselves were frozen in 2009. He also insisted that compensation didn't play a part in the decision to fire her and promote managing editor Dean Baquet as her successor.

"The reason – the only reason – for that decision was concerns I had about some aspects of Jill’s management of our newsroom, which I had previously made clear to her, both face-to-face and in my annual assessment," he said.

Sulzberger has faced criticism for the unceremonious way Abramson, the Times' first female executive editor, was abruptly fired Wednesday afternoon. The circumstances surrounding her dismissal also overshadowed the historic ascension of Baquet, the paper's first African American executive editor.

Read Sulzberger's full memo below:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you because I am concerned about the misinformation that has been widely circulating in the media since I announced Jill Abramson’s departure yesterday. I particularly want to set the record straight about Jill’s pay as Executive Editor of The Times.

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. It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.

Comparisons between the pensions of different executive editors are difficult for several reasons. Pensions are based upon years of service with the Company. Jill’s years of service were significantly fewer than those of many of her predecessors. Secondly, as you may know, pension plans for all managers at The New York Times were frozen in 2009. But this and all other pension changes at the Company have been applied without any gender bias and Jill was not singled out or differentially disadvantaged in any way.

Compensation played no part whatsoever in my decision that Jill could not remain as executive editor. Nor did any discussion about compensation. The reason – the only reason – for that decision was concerns I had about some aspects of Jill’s management of our newsroom, which I had previously made clear to her, both face-to-face and in my annual assessment.

This Company is fully committed to equal treatment of all its employees, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or any other characteristic. We are working hard to live up to that principle in every part of our organization. I am satisfied that we fully lived up to that commitment with regard to Jill.

Arthur

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