Ousted New York Times Editor Jill Abramson Signs Book Deal

2-27-15 Jill Abramson
Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, is writing a book about the future of news and the media. Kena Betancur/Reuters

When Jill Abramson made headlines last May, she had just been fired and replaced as executive editor of The New York Times after less than three years at the paper's helm.

Nine months later, Simon & Schuster says it will be publishing Abramson's next book, which explores the future of news and the media.

"I've been a front-line combatant in the news media's battle to remain the bedrock of an informed society," Abramson is quoted as saying in Simon & Schuster's Thursday press release announcing the deal. "Now I'm going to wear my reporter's hat again to tell the full drama of that story in a book, focusing on both traditional and new media players in the digital age."

According to Simon & Schuster, the as-yet untitled book "will explore the creative disruption that characterizes today's news organizations, where net-native companies are gaining enormous popularity, while the venerable legacy institutions of the 20th century are struggling to both remain profitable and find new avenues for readership."

Abramson and her agent, Suzanne Gluck of William Morris Endeavor, "made the rounds to publishers" last week, according to the New York Post, which also reported that Simon & Schuster's bid was $1 million. However, Alice Mayhew, Simon & Schuster's editorial director and the editor of Abramson's book, told The New York Times the rumored amount is inaccurate. She did not disclose an actual figure, and a spokesman for the publisher declined to comment on the deal's value and referred Newsweek to the Times's coverage.

After graduating from Harvard with a degree in history, Abramson covered the 1976 presidential election for Time magazine, according to an Adweek profile published when she was named the Times's first female executive editor, in 2011. She worked at The Wall Street Journal and The American Lawyer before moving to the Times in 1997. There, she became the first woman to take on the roles of Washington bureau chief and managing editor, in addition to executive editor.

She is the author of Where They Are Now: The Story of the Women of Harvard Law, 1974, with Barbara Franklin (1986); Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, with Jane Mayer (1994); and The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout (2011).

Since her very public ouster from the Times, Abramson has announced plans for a startup with Steven Brill that would publish only one story per month. The venture would advance writers roughly $100,000 to write pieces that would be "longer than long magazine articles but shorter than books." She has also returned to her alma mater, Harvard, as a visiting lecturer teaching narrative nonfiction courses.

Simon & Schuster told Newsweek the new book's publication date will be announced later.

After the announcement, one media outlet commented harshly on the notion of having a newspaper editor write a book on new media. Gawker wrote that the news could "be interpreted as folly, or farce." Although Abramson is a "talented journalist with an illustrious résumé and who is undoubtedly capable of writing an insightful book on any number of topics," Hamilton Nolan wrote, she "is also a 60-year-old former newspaper editor and career employee of the oldest of America's old media institutions. The only demographic less well positioned to have good insight into the future of media would be illiterate octogenarians."

"The transformation of the news business is one of the most important cultural stories of our time," Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster, said in the press release. "Jill Abramson has the talent, perspective, and journalistic chops to write the defining book on this revolution."