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Jill Abramson, executive editor at The New York Times, is leaving the post, the company said Wednesday. She will be succeeded by Dean Baquet, who had been managing editor, the Times said.
The Times' announcement did not venture a reason for Ms. Abramson's departure, which came as a surprise. She only assumed the post in September 2011.
But asked why Ms. Abramson was leaving, a Times spokeswoman said the change was Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s decision. "Arthur made the decision because he believed that new leadership would improve some aspects of the management of the newsroom," she said in an email.
The abrupt switch at the top caught the normally gossipy newsroom off-guard. "Everyone was totally surprised -- shocked," a Times reporter said.
A Politico article last year reported complaints about Ms. Abramsons' management style, but many staffers at the time called the piece was exaggerated and unfair. Ms. Abramson sat in the lunchroom the day after that story came out and took questions from anyone who had one, the Times reporter said.
A few minutes before the announcement went out, top editors began pulling section heads aside and telling them about the news, the reporter said. Then everyone assembled in the newsroom, where Mr. Sulzberger delivered the announcement. He did not take questions.
"I've loved my run at The Times," Ms. Abramson said in a statement provided by the company. "I got to work with the best journalists in the world doing so much stand-up journalism. Holding powerful institutions accountable is the mission of The Times and the hallmark of my time as executive editor, whether stories about China, government secrecy, or powerful figures and corporations."
Ms. Abramson rose at the paper as Washington correspondent and then editor, eventually serving as one of then-editor Bill Keller's top lieutenants and succeeding him when he stepped down to become a columnist.
Mr. Baquet, a veteran of the Washington bureau himself and former editor of the Los Angeles Times, addressed the newsroom Thursday afternoon.
Dean Baquet speaking. Newsroom is packed. pic.twitter.com/4wWN1Hb8pw— Alastair Coote (@_alastair) May 14, 2014
Ms. Abramson had been the paper's first female top editor; Mr. Baquet becomes its first black top editor.