It's been nearly five months since Jill Abramson was dismissed as executive editor of the New York Times, and says she's "still trying to figure out" why, exactly, it happened.
The narrative around her dismissal in favor of Dean Baquet centered on her leadership style, which some described as "pushy." It's a character trait she embraces, even showing off a gold necklace with the letters "p-u-s-h-y" to Re/code co-founder Kara Swisher during an interview as part of the Code Media conference in New York.
"I stood up in a vigorous way for what I thought was the best way forward for journalism," Abramson said, reflecting on her time as the first female executive editor of the Times.
Were there things she might have done differently? "Maybe I could have done a better job building a consensus around my priorities," she said.
Abramson said that she does believe there's a double-standard in the way certain personality traits or leadership styles are accepted in men and not in women. In the media, there's a dearth of women in top leadership positions.
"The facts are right now if you are looking at big traditional news organizations -- they've bid adieu to [Washington Post publisher] Katherine Weymouth, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric," she said. "Where are the women who are running things?"
Before she was dismissed from the Times, she confronted publisher Arthur Sulzberger over her pay, which she felt was less than that of her male predecessor. "I hired a lawyer to make clear that I was dissatisfied with my compensation," Abramson said. "I did not feel that compared to other people at the company that I was fairly compensated."
In a separate private event today, her successor, Baquet, told Times Premier subscribers that Abramson's firing was "a difficult day in my life."
Abramson said she remains a great fan of the Times, which she called "an irreplaceable cultural institution that fuels the intellectual life of this country."
Like all print-based news organizations, the Times is under stress, but Abramson pointed out that despite several rounds of buyouts, the Times newsroom is roughly the same size today that it was 10 years ago. What will sustain it, she says, is the commitment to quality and the family ownership model.
"You have an incredibly committed family that owns the Times and believes passionately in the future of quality news, and there is a strategy to get through this difficult transition," she said.
Abramson said that she, along with her predecessor, Bill Keller, were big proponents of the Times' subscription strategy on the Web, which now has in excess of 800,000 subscribers. But a recent Re/code report noted that the growth of that paid audience has slowed and likely plateaued at its current price point of $15 to $30 a month.
But the digital subscriptions have already exceeded most predictions, Abramson said. "Just about everybody said no one will ever pay for news on the web," she said. "Everyone forecast that the Times digital subscription plan would flop. Yeah, I thought it was a great idea and the way forward."
With the benefit of hindsight, Abramson said the Times should have moved more aggressively to embrace social media. "We were slow to maximize social media both in terms of news gathering but also sharing and amplifying the work that we do," she said.