If you work at The New York Times, your boss is a bad ass. Whether she’s more of a bad ass than you are depends on whether you….
1) Decorated your body with 5 or more tats.
2) Took 14 Senators to task.
3) Sustained injuries in both urban and natural environments. (*Brownie points if you were hit by a truck while falling down a mountain.)
4) Hired a cop to train your dog.
5) Oversees the most respected, beloved, lambasted, and loathed newspaper in the nation.
I am not implying that Jill Abramson, the Executive Editor of The New York Times, works in isolation. It would be impossible to deliver such a critical resource on so many platforms across continents without a gifted team of journalists, editors, technologists, videographers, photographers, graphic designers, copywriters, printers, and the good Samaritans who deliver papers uphill both ways. Still, managing all of these moving parts is a feat in and of itself, especially in the digital age.
As technological innovation enables consumers to inhale information faster than ever, it’s a daunting task to try and satisfy so many discerning and diverging palates. In our interview, Abramson reveals how much she relishes the challenge. Having climbed the ladder from plum post to plum post, be it at Time Magazine, in its heyday, The Wall Street Journal and, since 1997, at The New York Times, Abramson is no stranger to success.
Her sound work ethic, follow through, and her ease in working independently or teaming up with others have paid off again and again. She’s also milked her experiences for all they’re worth. Like when Abramson got a puppy Scout, she penned an online column about raising him called The Puppy Diaries. Subscribers lapped it up. The New York Times website crashed after Abramson asked readers to send in their puppy pictures. (Abramson did not reveal how many submissions were selfies taken by dogs.) Abramson also adapted those 1st person essays into a memoir, or dogoir, as well as a children’s book, which she co-authored with her sister (and children’s book author) Jane O’Connor. While Abramson enjoys dabbling in fluffier fare, she shines when tackling more serious subjects.
After one of the most politically charged Senate judiciary committee investigations in U.S. history and the first one to call sexual harassment by its rightful name, Abramson and her then Wall Street Journal colleague Jane Mayer delivered a verdict which took the Senate to task for their partisan and paltry performance. The two reporters penned a critically acclaimed and popular treatise, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. Over twenty years later, in a recently released documentary Anita, Abramson and Mayer’s discoveries still stand. In our conversation, Abramson hinted that the late Republican Senator Arlene Specter may have had misgivings and revealed them to Abramson, off the record, years later.
Her devotion to The New York Times brand is palpable, almost collegiate, as she has the, as she calls it, “iconic” New York Times “T” tattooed on her arm. Perhaps not surprising, she also has an H tattooed on her, an imprint of her alma mater Harvard.
Abramson truly believes The New York Times will always be the premiere destination for political junkies, history buffs, music lovers, film fanatics, theater nerds, art aficionados, and foodies to get their fix. We are living in an era of cultural hoarding and Abramson is ready, willing, and able to deliver the goods.