Jill Abramson: I'm not ashamed of being fired from New York Times

Jill Abramson isn't ashamed about being fired as executive editor of the New York Times in May, she told Cosmopolitan in her first magazine interview since leaving the paper.

Chris Keane / Today
Jill Abramson, former executive editor at the New York Times spoke at commencement for Wake Forest University after she was fired from the newspaper.

"Is it hard to say I was fired?" Abramson said. "No. I've said it about 20 times, and it's not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that." 

Young women should not feel stigmatized if they are fired either, she said. "Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control."

Abramson's firing led to much public debate about whether she was treated differently because she was a woman, the first female executive editor in the Times' 160-year history. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said publicly that he had issues with her management style. 

"The whole issue of how women's management styles are viewed is an incredibly interesting subject," she said. "If there is a silver lining, it was the great reaction from other women journalists."

She knew her firing was coming before it went public, but was surprised by the volume of the response. The day after the news went public, she had her personal trainer take the now-infamous photo of her in boxing gloves, which went viral immediately after her daughter Cornelia shared it on Instagram.

Abramson also shared tips and tidbits from her years in journalism:

  • Don't define yourself by your job. "I miss my colleagues and the substance of my work, but I don't miss saying, 'Jill Abramson, executive editor.'"
  • Don't be afraid to ask for what you're worth. "Women in general have a harder time talking about money with their bosses. It's part of that syndrome, like you're so lucky just to have the job."
  • Don't over-specialize. Instead, "master the basics of really good storytelling, have curiosity and a sense of how a topic is different than a story, and actually go out and witness and report."

And don't cry for Abramson, who will be teaching undergraduate courses in narrative nonfiction at Harvard University in the fall. For now, she's enjoying the break from the grind of her high-pressure role.

"Since getting fired, I've watched every Yankees game, and I've gone to a couple of day games that I would never have been able to," she told the magazine. "I've reread a couple of novels that I read in school. ('To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'All the King's Men.') My dog, Scout, she is relaxing company. I went to Greece with my sister, and in Athens, we went to museums then just sat on the beach in Mykonos for a week and talked and read and laughed. I didn't have to worry about calling in to the news desk."

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