Jill Abramson, the executive editor of the New York Times newspaper, and Natalie Nougayrède, editor-in-chief of the French title Le Monde, are both leaving their posts, it has emerged. Both were the first women to take the top editorial roles at their respective papers.
In a surprise announcement, the New York Times said Dean Baquet, 57, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has been managing editor since September 2011, would succeed Ms Abramson immediately, becoming the first African-American executive editor at the paper.
Ms Abramson, 60, said: “I have loved my run at the Times … we successfully blazed trails on the digital frontier and we have come so far in inventing new forms of story-telling.
“Our masthead became half female for the first time and so many great women hold important newsroom positions. Dean has been my partner in all this and he will be a great executive editor.” Mr Baquet said he was “honoured” to take on the role.
Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr thanked Ms Abramson but did not elaborate on why her tenure as editor was ending. “Jill Abramson has my sincere thanks for not just preserving and extending the excellence of our news report during her time as executive editor, but also for inspiring her colleagues to adjust their approach to how we deliver the news,” he said. Ravi Somaiya, a reporter for the newspaper, tweeted that the change was attributed by Mr Sulzberger Jr to “an issue with management in the newsroom.”
Ms Abramson had been appointed to the top job at the Times in September 2011, and Ms Nougayrède was another with a relatively brief tenure, departing after only 14 months at the helm of the highly respected, centre-left French daily, Le Monde.
Ms Nougayrède, 56, who had in recent weeks been accused of “authoritarian” and “Putin-like” tendencies, was forced out after journalists revolted against plans to combine the staff of print and online editions.
In a brief statement, Ms Nougayrède, elected editor by 80 per cent of journalists in March last year but in recent times accused of failing to communicate with the newspaper’s legendarily independent-minded editorial staff, said that she was no longer able to carry out her duties “in all fullness and serenity”.
“The determination of some members of the Le Monde staff to reduce drastically the prerogatives of the editor is, for me, incompatible with the pursuit of my task,” she said.
The departure of Ms Nougayrède is the latest chapter in a series of convulsions in France’s most respected newspaper. In 2010, it was forced to sell a controlling stake to three French left-of-centre multi-millionaires, Xavier Niel, Pierre Bergé and Matthieu Pigasse. They forced out the editor, Eric Fottorino, but his popular successor, Erik Izraelewicz, collapsed and died at work in 2012.
Le Monde journalists, who retain the unique right to choose their own boss, surprised the French media world in March last year by replacing him with Ms Nougayrède. Seven senior members of the editorial staff resigned last week, complaining that a “lack of confidence in, and communication with, editorial management prevents us from fulfilling our roles”.
Her departure is reported to have been forced by the triumvirate of chief shareholders.