A lot has been discussed about former New York Times editor Jill Abramson’s firing, but not much has been heard from Abramson herself, until now. While various reports are trying to figure out why the New York Times fired Abramson so abruptly, other outlets have tried to figure out when the bad blood started.
As we previously reported, Jill Abramson was not present when the New York Times announced to its staffers that they were appointing a new executive editor in Dean Baquet, who is now the first African American to serve as the Times’ executive editor. Some said that her firing was due to questioning why she wasn’t paid equal wages or benefits equal to Times editor Bill Keller. This discovery has sparked a ton of people, mostly other journalists, asking if the job market is still sexist in this day and age.
Fast forward to a little less than a week and now Abramson has decided to speak out at a commencement address at Wake Forest University. For Jill it was the first time she has been seen in the media since her firing. The former New York Times executive editor mentioned that she was tasked to speak to the students about resilience. In an 11-minute speech Abramson met the task with humor and some notable advice for the students, but anything worth noting about the commencement speech came in the form of her insight about how important parents are in the wake of rejection.
“I’m impressed your achievements have attracted so much media attention, as well they should!” she said to much laughter of the graduates before going on.
Not one to shy away from “truth telling,” Abramson mentioned that her recent firing from the New York Times was met with an important call from her sister which reminded her that their father, who was a college drop out, would be just as proud of her achievements, but even prouder to see her bounce back.
The journalist went on to relay this message to the students and their immediate situations that they face as new graduates.
“I’m talking to anyone who has been dumped,” she said. “Not gotten the job you really wanted or received those horrible rejection letters from grad school. You know, the sting of losing, or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.”
When asked for a comment following Abramson’s firing, at the time Jane Mayer, who is a friend and journalist at The New Yorker said:
“I know that Jill cares passionately about great journalism and The New York Times. She works incredibly hard, holds everyone including herself to the highest standards, and is a forceful and fearless advocate. Not everyone is going to like that, but it’s what makes her one of the most talented journalists of our times.”
Aside from the “why” surrounding her firing, everyone wants to know what her next step will be as a free journalist and editor. Abramson admitted, quite humorously, that she had no idea.
“What’s next for me? I don’t know so I’m in exactly the same boat as many of you! Like you, I’m a little scared but also excited.”
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