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.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Sulzberger grew more focused on The Times itself, rather than a broader portfolio of media properties. Because of that, several executives said, it was essential that he have a good working relationship with the executive editor.
In accepting the job, Mr. Baquet, 57, made several promises to the staff in the newsroom.
"I will listen hard, I will be hands on, I will be engaged. I'll walk the room," he said. "That's the only way I know how to edit."
Mr. Baquet thanked Ms. Abramson, who was not present at the announcement, for teaching him "the value of great ambition" and then added that John Carroll, whom he worked for at The Los Angeles Times, "told me that great editors can also be humane editors."
Both Mr. Baquet and Mr. Sulzberger praised Ms. Abramson for her efforts, but at a newspaper where executive editors generally serve until they are 65, her tenure was five years shorter than many thought it would be. When she was named the paper's top editor, Ms. Abramson called it "the honor of my life." She recently got a tattoo of The Times's gothic "T" on her back.
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"I've loved my run at The Times," Ms. Abramson said in a prepared statement. "I got to work with the best journalists in the world doing so much stand-up journalism," she added, noting her appointment of many senior female editors as one of her achievements.
The Times won eight Pulitzer Prizes under Ms. Abramson, and she won praise for journalistic efforts both in print and on the web. She had previously served as the head of the Washington bureau, and before coming to The Times was an investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal. She co-wrote, with Ms. Mayer, "Strange Justice," a book about the confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.
But as a leader of the newsroom, she was accused by some of divisiveness and criticized for several of her personnel choices, in particular the appointment of several major department heads who did not last long in their jobs.
With Mr. Sulzberger more closely monitoring her stewardship, tensions between Ms. Abramson and Mr. Baquet escalated. In one publicized incident, he angrily slammed his hand against a wall in the newsroom. He had been under consideration for the lead job when Ms. Abramson was selected and, according to people familiar with his thinking, he was growing frustrated working with her.