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Jill Abramson: It's 'liberating' to say 'I was fired' from The New York Times

Jill Abramson
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Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, won't sugarcoat the past.

She doesn't describe May 14, 2014 as the day she "parted ways" with the newspaper or "moved on." In her words, it's the day she was fired.

Describing the event as such has helped her grow professionally, Abramson tells writer and actress Lena Dunham in a recent issue of her newsletter, "Lenny Letter."

"I find that it is a liberating thing," Abramson tells Dunham. "It's the truth."

Abramson, who is now an author and senior lecturer at Harvard University, was the first female executive editor of The New York Times in the paper's 160-year history.

The New York Times building in New York City.
Getty Images
The New York Times building in New York City.

Her termination took the media world by surprise. Dunham says she recalls texting a friend who works at the paper wondering if the news could be true.

It was. Dean Baquet, former managing editor at the outlet, was given the role.

But Abramson didn't want to shy away from discussing her highly-publicized career setback.

"I've devoted my life to words and their meaning," she says, "and so why not? If you use some euphemism, people are left wondering, 'What happened?'"

"If you use some euphemism, people are left wondering, 'What happened?'" -Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times

Speaking out has helped her define her legacy in journalism, she says.

In a commencement speech at Wake Forest University just days after getting fired, Abramson told students that her sister had called her, after learning she'd been fired, and reminded her of advice their father had given them: "Show what you are made of."

"We human beings are a lot more resilient than we often realize," she said, "resilient and perseverent "

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