In September, Jill Abramson, 57, was appointed executive editor of the New York Times, the first woman in this role in the paper’s 160-year history. A native New Yorker, she joined the paper from the Wall Street Journal, rising to the position of Washington bureau chief before becoming executive editor.
How much significance do you attach to being the first woman to lead the New York Times?
I am honoured. It is hard to measure the significance, but I have been very gratified by the positive responses of my female colleagues at the Times, as well as the men. It seems to have meant a lot to women in journalism, many of whom I don’t know, who sent me wonderful notes; as did young girls who wrote to me about how excited they were about my appointment.
What are your greatest challenges in this role?
Pushing further ahead with the integration of our digital and print news-gathering and presentation, and making sure our newsroom is on the cutting edge of innovation while adhering to the highest standards of delivering news.
Can you describe your leadership style?
Do you believe women have a different managerial style?
Many of my women colleagues at the Times are confident leaders and collaborative in their style.
What is the most treasured possession in your office?
A picture of my mother, at age 12, with the Yankees star Babe Ruth [the famous New York baseball player].
Did you imagine you would be where you are now when you started your career?
Never in a million years.
Has your work made your personal life suffer?
No, I think my passion for my work has had a positive influence on my family.
Has your personal life made your work suffer?
Having small children and being an investigative reporter would seem like a difficult mix, but it worked well for me. I was often working on my own enterprise stories, which were not as deadline sensitive. I am in awe of women who have full family lives and seem to work round the clock in the 24/7 news cycle.
Who has been the most influential person on your career?
My sister, who is a successful children’s book author, editor and wonderful mother.
Do you have a mentor?
Sandra Burton, my first boss in journalism, who was Boston bureau chief of Time magazine, and Al Hunt, my boss at the Wall Street Journal.
What do you wish you could tell your teenage self?
Relax and go ahead and have adventures.
Highlight of your career?
Co-authoring the book Strange Justice with Jane Mayer, about the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill controversy.
How would you like to be remembered?