The New York Times dismissed Jill Abramson as executive editor on Wednesday, replacing her with Dean Baquet, the managing editor, in an abrupt change of leadership.
Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the paper and the chairman of The New York Times Company, told a stunned newsroom that had been quickly assembled that he had made the decision because of “an issue with management in the newsroom.”
Ms. Abramson, 60, had been in the job only since September 2011. But people in the company briefed on the situation described serious tension in her relationship with Mr. Sulzberger, who was concerned about complaints from employees that she was polarizing and mercurial. She had also had clashes with Mr. Baquet.
In recent weeks, these people said, Mr. Baquet had become angered over a decision by Ms. Abramson to make a job offer to a senior editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, and install her alongside him in a co-managing editor position without consulting him. It escalated the conflict between them and rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger.
Ms. Abramson had recently engaged a consultant to help her with her management style. Mr. Sulzberger nevertheless made the decision earlier this month to dismiss her, and last Thursday he informed Mr. Baquet of his promotion, according to the people briefed on the situation, who declined to speak for attribution because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Ms. Abramson did not return messages seeking comment. As part of a settlement agreement between her and the paper, neither side would go into detail about her firing.
Mr. Baquet becomes the first African-American to serve as The Times’s executive editor. Ms. Abramson’s hiring also made history — she was the first woman to run the newspaper. Her dismissal, after less than three years in the job, was met with disappointment by some women in the newsroom, and could be perceived as a step backward in the cause of female leadership at The Times and elsewhere in the industry.
Jane Mayer, a journalist at The New Yorker and a friend of Ms. Abramson, said, “I know that Jill cares passionately about great journalism and The New York Times. She works incredibly hard, holds everyone including herself to the highest standards, and is a forceful and fearless advocate. Not everyone is going to like that, but it’s what makes her one of the most talented journalists of our times.”
The upheaval comes in a crucial year for The Times, which has shed assets like The Boston Globe and About.com, and built a strategy around the newspaper that it hopes will spur growth. The paper recently began a new subscription iPhone app, NYT Now, and plans to start specific cooking and opinion products. It has overhauled its leadership on the business side with a new chief executive, Mark Thompson, appointed in 2012, and a new head of advertising, Meredith Kopit Levien.