Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jill Abramson's Ink

One has to wonder if there might not be a simmering dispute between the NYT and their former executive managing editor, Jill Abramson, who they just let go rather abruptly after less than three years on the job.

It was news everywhere, including the NYT, when Ms. Abramson was suddenly replaced by her No. 2, the deputy managing editor Dean Baquet. In yesterday's edition of the NYT, Ms. Abramson is reported to have accepted a job teaching at Harvard in the fall, a course in narrative nonfiction. I'll assume journalism falls under this discipline, but really, what do I know?

It is a short story, but it has a picture of Ms. Abramson speaking at a commencement exercise at Wake Forest. We don't know what she said at this exercise, but, being a New Yorker, she might have cracked-wise about her former employer. Separations for cause might not include an agreement not to speak badly of your former employer. When I was given a termination package surrounding a layoff one of the things I signed was not to speak badly of my former employer. I didn't. And I haven't. But, Mr. Abramson's circumstances and mine are worlds apart, I suspect.

The story stays in the collegiate vein when it is revealed that Ms. Abramson graduated Harvard in 1976. So, she's coming back, in a sense. Where the story seems to jump the tracks and perhaps return a tit for a tat is when it is revealed that Ms. Abramson has two tattoos, one an 'H', for Harvard, and the other an Old English style 'T' to match the NYT logo. This is revealed in the story's next to last paragraph.

Why there suddenly seems to be a need to tell us what Ms. Abramson has etched on her body (and not tell us where) seems out of place with the spirit of the story. Or, maybe, it is completely within the spirit (mean spirit) of the story.

I once heard of the story that when Julie Andrews did not get the movie part for Eliza Doolittle, the part she made famous in the musical 'My Fair Lady' and it instead was given by the movie's producer Jack Warner to a non-signing Audrey Hepburn (with singing dubbed by Marni Nixon), Ms. Andrews took every opportunity to drive by Jack's office and sing at the top of her lungs. She felt better doing it.

I'd like to think that when Mr. Abramson walks past the NYT building on Eighth Avenue she can turn a cheek toward the reviewing stand and symbolically flash her 'H.'

She's certainly not the first, or the last person, to be mad at the NYT.


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