Q&A: Jill Abramson

See Jill become The New York Times' first woman executive editor. Read her charming new memoir, "The Puppy Diaries," in stores Oct. 11.

 

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The almost-decade that you've been managing editor has been a particularly interesting period at the Times . . .

It always is! I came here in 1997, and it's never not been interesting.

 . . . But is there any moment in your tenure that seems most striking, made the biggest impression on you?

I can't really cite one thing—it's just how the newsroom rises to the occasion of the big story, like nothing I've ever seen. And the ability that journalists from many different parts of the newsroom have to work together just astounds me.

One big upcoming story, of course, is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Have you thought about how you're going to cover that?

We're going to do a special section that Sunday. You know, on the first anniversary we did a big special section as well, and at the five-year mark I worked closely with Deborah Sontag, one of our most talented reporters and writers, who did a deep dive for months and months into the question of why so little construction had happened on the memorial at Ground Zero. It was an incredible story of political-community-business logjam.

It's a very different anniversary at 10 years. I took a trip with [newly named Times managing editor] Dean Baquet—one we'd planned months ago, before we knew of any title changes—to Pakistan and Afghanistan, which neither of us had ever been to. We traveled for two weeks; one of the places we went to in Pakistan was Abbottabad. I've done a lot of thinking about 9/11 and I think we're going to have a great section. And a terrific online presentation, too.

Are you nervous about your new role?

Yes—I'm always nervous. In Puppy Diaries, I talked about coming from a family that has always been full of anxieties. So, sure, I'm nervous. But I think that I feel ready and up to the challenge, and very excited about it, too.

Q&A: Jill Abramson

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