Jill Abramson: "The Puppy Diaries"

MS. DIANE REHM

11:06:55
Thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Former managing editor of the New York Times, Clifton Daniel, once claimed no woman will ever be an editor at the New York Times. It took half a century, but Jill Abramson has proven him wrong. She was named executive editor of the Gray Lady, just last month. But journalism is just one of her passions. She's also devoted to her white haired Golden Retriever.

MS. DIANE REHM

11:07:35
Jill Abramson has written a new book, part memoir, part investigative report, detailing her first year with Scout. The book is titled "The Puppy Diaries" and Jill Abramson joins me in the studio. I'm sure many of you can relate to what Jill writes about in developing not only a relationship with Scout, but trying to help him understand the rules of society. Welcome, Jill.

MS. JILL ABRAMSON

11:08:16
Thanks.

REHM

11:08:16
So glad to see you.

ABRAMSON

11:08:17
Thanks for having me.

REHM

11:08:19
My pleasure. You can joins us 800-433-8850, send us your e-mail to drshow@wamu.org, join us on Facebook or Twitter. And Jill, congratulations on proving Clifton Daniel wrong.

ABRAMSON

11:08:44
Thank you, Diane.

REHM

11:08:45
He wasn't the only one.

ABRAMSON

11:08:48
No, that's for sure. I love looking at -- there's some documentary footage of old page one meetings from the '50s and '60s. And that's, you know, six men, most of them smoking in a room, deciding what will be on the front page of The New York Times the next day.

REHM

11:09:07
And, of course, Scotty Reston was also one who declared no woman an editor.

ABRAMSON

11:09:16
He was that -- I think would be quite surprised to see me in this job, for sure.

REHM

11:09:25
In the midst of this extraordinarily busy career that you have had and have, how did this particular book come about?

ABRAMSON

11:09:40
It came about an online experiment, originally. When I was managing editor of The Times, two editors made an appointment to see me to talk about expanding pet coverage in The Times. And to talk to me about whether there was a Time-zian way to write about dogs and other pets. And we had just gotten Scout and I was gleary-eyed, you know, sleep deprived, kind of a nervous wreck.

ABRAMSON

11:10:14
And instead of soliciting their ideas for how we could expand coverage, I deluged them with antidotes and funny stories about...

REHM

11:10:24
About your own dog.

ABRAMSON

11:10:26
...about -- and they just looked at me and they said you should write about this, Jill. And online, I started a column called The Puppy Diaries.

REHM

11:10:35
I love it. Now, when you talk about Scout, Scout was not the first dog. There was Buddy, a West Highland Terrier and you've really touch on the grief you experienced at the loss of Buddy.

ABRAMSON

11:10:56
Which I think is, you know, a difficult thing for many people. And it's one, you know, that you worry that if you talk about it with your friends or other people, they're going to think you're kind of kooky to be...

REHM

11:11:08
And sappy and all the rest...

ABRAMSON

11:11:09
Yeah.

REHM

11:11:11
...of it.

ABRAMSON

11:11:11
Like, you know, it's just a dog.

REHM

11:11:12
Yeah.

ABRAMSON

11:11:13
But, you know, as anyone who has a dog or has had a dog knows, you know, the human-dog bond is a very real, an intense one. And, you know, Buddy had brought so much pleasure and joy into our lives and lived to be 16. He, you know, lived with us here in the Washington area and, you know, was with me when I was Washington Bureau chief of The Times. And then, when I became managing editor, he became a Manhattan boy.

REHM

11:11:45
Did you take Buddy to work with you?

ABRAMSON

11:11:49
I did once and it did not please some of my colleagues so I got turned in to the building patrol and was told in a very nice way no dogs allowed.

REHM

11:12:02
Too bad, too bad. In the midst of loving Buddy and in the midst of having lost your father, you also had a terrible accident.

ABRAMSON

11:12:21
I did, it's true. And, you know, I have to say, compared to the terrible accidents that other people, I know, have had, this one was not, you know, terrible in the scheme of things. And I'm completely recovered now. But I was actually run over by a truck in Time Square.

REHM

11:12:43
Run over by a truck.

ABRAMSON

11:12:44
I was. And I'm a lifelong, you know, I'm born and bred New Yorker, you know, and have always been incredibly careful crossing the street. I'm really not one of those people who's always in a hurry or looking at my cell phone when I'm on the street. So this came out of the blue and, you know, I broke a lot of bones. I was in the hospital, in intensive care for some weeks. And then I had to learn to walk all over again. I had -- I broke my femur, which is one of the largest bones in the body, and other bones and, you know, I was a mess for a while.

REHM

11:13:23
And where was your dog?

ABRAMSON

11:13:29
The sad thing is, is that Buddy had passed away in March of that year. It was 2007 and this accident happened in May. So, you know, I was still in my very blue period following Buddy's death and feeling a little lonely because, you know, my kids, at that point, were out of the nest. My son actually graduated from college the day before I was run over. But, you know, a house that had been full of kids and a dog was suddenly kind of quiet and I was sad about that.

ABRAMSON

11:14:07
But probably lucky because, you know, just to learn to walk again took months and, you know, I wouldn't have been capable of walking a dog during that period.

REHM

11:14:17
Of course. Then your husband, your family urged you to get another dog, but you were reluctant.

ABRAMSON

11:14:26
I was. I'd just felt unready and, you know, I felt I could never love another dog the way I had loved Buddy. And, you know, I just thought here, you know, I have this incredibly busy job as managing editor of The Times where I have to sometimes pickup and run into the office and so why not enjoy, like, an empty nest and not having to take care of other people and constantly look at my watch and wonder how long has the dog been home alone?

ABRAMSON

11:15:04
And I have to run back and, you know, walk the dog. And -- but, you know, my family began a very intensive lobbying campaign. It was on all fronts. Henry, my husband, had fallen in love with friends of ours' dog who was also a white Golden Retriever. And he loved that she loved to swim and fetch and, you know, was so playful and well behaved. My son started emailing me at the time, like, adore -- hopelessly adorable pictures from Pet Finders. My daughter, you know, made dates to look at shelters and thought up cute names for a new dog. It just -- it was relentless and it worked.

REHM

11:15:53
And it finally worked so that you went to a breeder?

ABRAMSON

11:16:00
Yes.

REHM

11:16:00
You saw these puppies.

ABRAMSON

11:16:03
A liter of irresistible puppies. When anyone now says to me they're going to a breeder just to look, I always think, forget about it. There's no way.

REHM

11:16:13
That's what I told my husband as well.

ABRAMSON

11:16:16
But you know, we were careful to go to a very reputable breeder...

REHM

11:16:20
Yeah.

ABRAMSON

11:16:20
...Diane. Because as a fellow dog lover, I know, you know that over breeding is a terrible problem. Puppy mills are an awful problem. You know, many pet shops who still sell puppies get their puppies from pet mills. So it's important, you know, for both -- for the health of your dog and for others reasons too, to make sure you know that the breeder you're going to is reputable. So...

REHM

11:16:50
Did you, at all, consider adopting from a shelter?

ABRAMSON

11:16:55
I -- I did. Because, you know, Buddy was a West Highland white Terrier so he -- we got from a breeder too, long ago. And, you know, I was certainly aware of how many dogs need homes. And, you know, although not as many as were in the past euthanized, you know, there are dogs still being put to sleep.

ABRAMSON

11:17:21
And, you know, I did not necessarily have my heart set on a puppy, but my husband did. My husband had just fallen in love with the dog of our friends. And because I doodled for so long, he took matters into his own hands and sent an initial application to the breeder.

REHM

11:17:41
And now you do have Scout, a beautiful white Golden Retriever. You are now executive editor of The New York Times. Do you take your dog to work with you?

ABRAMSON

11:17:59
Still not allowed. I would love to and I think that she would add a lot of fun and relaxation to our news room. But, you know, it's not permitted.

REHM

11:18:11
It's simply not permitted.

ABRAMSON

11:18:12
So -- it's so -- that's sad. I have friends who do bring their dogs to work and a little birdie told me, Diane, that Maxie occasionally makes appearances right here at your studio.

REHM

11:18:25
Not anymore, Jill.

ABRAMSON

11:18:27
No.

REHM

11:18:28
Not anymore.

ABRAMSON

11:18:28
Oh boy, I heard that she may have been banned, recently. But...

REHM

11:18:33
Poor Maxie. Poor Maxie. Jill Abramson is with me and her new book "The Puppy Diaries" is all about raising a dog named Scout. When we come back, we're going to talk about raising other issues at The New York Times.

REHM

11:20:04
Welcome back. If you've just joined us, Jill Abramson is with me. She is executive editor of the New York Times. She is also a great lover of dogs. And her newest book, which began as a series in the New York Times online, "The Puppy Diaries" is now in a book. And she is talking about her white Golden Retriever, a dog named Scout whose photograph is on the cover. And she is really just absolutely adorable.

REHM

11:20:47
You, Jill, have a reputation as a tough editor. And yet as Ken Auletta wrote in the New Yorker, I mean, this soft side of you is coming out. And is anybody going to take advantage of that, do you think?

ABRAMSON

11:21:07
Well, I don't think they probably will try to take advantage, but, you know, back when I worked in Washington D.C., you know, I was well known for writing tough investigative pieces. And I remember occasionally, 'cause at that point my children were small, saying to people who were turning down my requests for interviews because I was supposed to be so tough and digging so deeply I would sometimes say to them, but I'm a Girl Scout troop leader, which I was.

ABRAMSON

11:21:42
I mean, I think the thing about a journalist, like any professional, is that there are many sides and many dimensions to people. And they're not all one thing.

REHM

11:21:55
You did write a book with your dear friend Jane Mayer about Clarence Thomas after his confirmation. He is now what, celebrating his 20th anniversary. What are your thoughts today about Clarence Thomas?

ABRAMSON

11:22:17
Well, my thoughts have turned to that time period because actually this past weekend was just the actual 20th anniversary. And there was an interesting symposium on the Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas hearings at Hunter College. And, you know, I think the lasting legacy of that, you know, controversy is, number one, you know, a lot of women were elected to the Congress in 1992. The hearings were in 1991 and that tableau of the all-male senate judiciary committee just seemed so out of touch to many Americans. So in '92 there were six women elected to the Senate. They were called the Anita Hill class.

ABRAMSON

11:23:08
What I think of Justice Thomas is that, you know, he is certainly a reliably conservative vote on the court. His jurisprudence, you know, is pretty much in line with some of his other colleagues like Scalia and now Justice Alito and others. You know, he had, famously, a sign up during his early days as a justice. Because when he was having his confirmation hearings it was said that Clarence Thomas would surely evolve on the court. And he had a little sign on his desk that said, I ain't evolving.

ABRAMSON

11:23:56
And, you know, he has been amazingly constant.

REHM

11:24:00
Consistent.

ABRAMSON

11:24:01
Yes.

REHM

11:24:02
Do you still believe he lied about relations with Anita Hill?

ABRAMSON

11:24:09
What I do believe, having spent, you know, literally years with Jane Mayer who's one of the best investigative reporters in the business -- she now works for the New Yorker, but we spent years researching every nook and cranny of the story. And we found other women who described incidents of Clarence Thomas saying bizarre things to them, just of the kind that Anita Hill testified about. And we found patterns in his life that gave credence to what she came to Washington and told about. So we felt the weight of the evidence supported her.

REHM

11:24:50
And what would you say about his wife's call to Anita Hill?

ABRAMSON

11:24:59
Right. Actually the Times broke that story. And, you know, was an odd occurrence where Ginni Thomas, out of the blue after all of these years, called Anita Hill to say you should really look at yourself deeply and consider taking back the lies that you told. And, you know, Anita Hill was concerned enough by this bizarre telephone call that -- she teaches at Brandeis -- and she called the campus police.

ABRAMSON

11:25:35
But, you know, I think that at the point that -- and I don't like to conjecture because as an investigative reporter one always goes by the facts -- but the facts at that moment were -- the Times actually had a front page story that very morning about Mrs. Thomas and some of her lobbying and political activities. And that was the same morning she made the call so...

REHM

11:26:03
So do you see some connection?

ABRAMSON

11:26:06
I don't know, possibly. I mean, the reporter in me is intrigued by that. I wish I had enough time to spend still reporting that I could get to the bottom of that.

REHM

11:26:16
How did you end up at the New York Times to begin with?

ABRAMSON

11:26:21
I had been for many years, as I said, investigative reporter at the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau. And I was their Deputy Washington Bureau Chief. And in 1997 I was attending a book party and I ran into Maureen Dowd the fabulous, brilliant columnist. And Maureen and I had actually sat across from each other at the Thomas Hill hearings. And, you know, we were not close friends but acquaintances.

ABRAMSON

11:26:53
And Maureen came up to me at this book party and said, we're getting a new Washington bureau chief and do you know any good women we can hire. And I sort of gave her a look like, what am I, chopped liver?

REHM

11:27:06
Yeah, right.

ABRAMSON

11:27:08
And she kind of squinched up her eyes and said, you would never leave the Wall Street Journal. And I said...

REHM

11:27:13
Would you?

ABRAMSON

11:27:14
Well, you know, the new bureau chief came calling and Joe Lelyveld who was then the executive editor made me a very attractive offer. And I'd grown up in a New York Times-loving household.

REHM

11:27:29
Where there were actually two newspapers.

ABRAMSON

11:27:31
There were for some years, two home subscriptions 'cause my mother was an expert puzzler. And she didn't like other people to be fussing with the newspaper. But, you know, I grew -- fell in love with reading and certainly reading newspapers growing up with the New York Times. So...

REHM

11:27:54
Jill, how did you get along with Howell Raines?

ABRAMSON

11:27:58
Yeah, that is -- Diane, was like ten years ago. He was the executive editor and became so right before 911. And, you know, I learned some valuable things from him. We had some conflicts but ten years is a long time. I don't like going back over that territory.

REHM

11:28:20
I understand that. So now you have become the first female executive editor at the New York Times. Does the fact that you are the first female affect how you think you approach your work?

ABRAMSON

11:28:42
Well, you know, it has to affect how I approach my work 'cause it affects who I am. And I'm immensely proud to be the first woman. And when Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. announced my appointment I talked to the newsroom and cited, you know, all of the women who battled in journalism and at the New York Times to make way so I could be a contender for this job. And then actually get the job.

ABRAMSON

11:29:14
And, you know, that galaxy includes Nan Robertson, who wrote a book about women at the Times and in the profession called "The Girls in the Balcony." You know, I thank Maureen Dowd who has been the most intrepid friend and supporter of mine. Janet Robinson, our CEO. A lot of the top people on our business side who I work with a lot are women, very strong women. And I couldn't be prouder.

REHM

11:29:51
Didn't Nan Robertson also write that extraordinary piece about toxic shock?

ABRAMSON

11:29:57
On toxic -- she sure did and she won a Pulitzer Prize for it.

REHM

11:30:00
She won a Pulitzer Prize for it.

ABRAMSON

11:30:02
But in terms of, you know, the historical aspect of being the first woman, I keep in my office a very large photograph that's framed of the Times newsroom in 1905. And there is one woman. She was the second woman hired to be a reporter. And I think because the men were being polite they gave her a seat sort of at the center of the desk that they're posing at. And she actually looks like the boss.

REHM

11:30:33
I love it, I love it. Now, the question that I'm sure a lot of people are wondering is, is there any connection between the kind of training you and Scout had to do together and the lessons you might apply to your work at the Times?

ABRAMSON

11:30:59
I think that there are life lessons in everything that one sometimes brings to work. And the quality that I don't like about myself as a journalist is I can sometimes be impatient. And in childrearing or caring for a puppy patience is just unbelievably important. If you don't have it and work on having more of it you're not going to help either your dog or your children. And at the times I found I've had to learn to listen more and talk less.

REHM

11:31:38
Listen more and talk less. And that is serving you well.

ABRAMSON

11:31:45
I'm trying.

REHM

11:31:48
Jill Abramson. She's executive editor of the New York Times. Her new book is titled "The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout." And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're going to open the phones now, 800-433-8850. First to Greg in Orlando, Fla. Good morning to you.

GREG

11:32:20
Good morning, Diane.

REHM

11:32:21
Hi there.

GREG

11:32:22
(unintelligible) your show.

REHM

11:32:23
Thank you.

GREG

11:32:24
I'm on a cell phone. I hope I stay alive here.

REHM

11:32:29
I do too. I hope you're not driving.

GREG

11:32:32
Well, unfortunately I am.

REHM

11:32:34
Oh, dear.

ABRAMSON

11:32:35
Uh, oh.

GREG

11:32:36
My question actually relates to safety. I was -- also was run over by a garbage truck as a pedestrian so my curiosity is greatly peaked. And my question is if Miss -- the editor had an -- did her accident contribute to her independent thinking as it relates to her will to live?

ABRAMSON

11:33:13
That's a very thoughtful question and I'm just not sure. I think my accident taught me a lot of things about myself...

REHM

11:33:23
Such as.

ABRAMSON

11:33:24
...determination and patience because you don't recover quickly from something like that. And you learn -- you know, in any setback either personally or professionally, you learn what you're made of and you grow.

REHM

11:33:44
Tell me exactly how that accident occurred.

ABRAMSON

11:33:49
It was early one morning in May, 2007 and I was actually on my way to exercise before work near the Times building in Times Square. And the light changed and I started crossing 44th Street headed to the gym. And, you know, this truck came out of nowhere fast and ran over my right foot first. And for some reason I was dragged down into the gutter. And then the rear wheel of the truck went over the top of my left leg and did the most damage.

ABRAMSON

11:34:29
And a policeman and a doctor at Bellevue Hospital where I was taken said to me that if the tire had been inches higher I would've been killed.

REHM

11:34:42
Wow. Did the truck stop?

ABRAMSON

11:34:48
The truck actually didn't stop, but, you know, it is a nice story about Manhattan in that tons of people who were crossing in the opposite direction stopped to help me when they saw what had happened. And several of them chased the truck and stopped it. And I don't know to this day whether the driver just didn't see me or what.

REHM

11:35:14
So you don't know if it was a deliberate case of hit-and-run.

ABRAMSON

11:35:18
I don't.

REHM

11:35:19
Yeah. Did you ever meet the driver?

ABRAMSON

11:35:23
I saw the driver once, but didn't meet him.

REHM

11:35:27
Yeah. How long did it take you to recover?

ABRAMSON

11:35:31
Well, I was in Bellevue Hospital where, you know, they have one of the great trauma centers in the world. I was there for three weeks. And then for about three months I did intensive physical therapy every day. And I graduated from being in a wheelchair -- I was in a wheelchair when I returned to work at the Times -- to crutches, to a cane, to, you know, maybe six months out being able to walk still limping unassisted. And, you know, I'm incredibly lucky.

REHM

11:36:10
Yeah.

ABRAMSON

11:36:10
There are so many people who have awful accidents or head injuries, you know, who don't recover. So I feel I have everything in the world to be grateful for.

REHM

11:36:21
Do you think it taught you anything about slowing down?

ABRAMSON

11:36:28
Maybe slowing down. I've never been a rush, rush, rush person.

REHM

11:36:32
Yeah, right.

ABRAMSON

11:36:33
And I'm not addicted to looking at my e-mail or text messages. But it definitely makes you stop and think that, you know, something could happen to you at any moment and you better make the most of the time you have on this earth for sure.

REHM

11:36:53
For sure. And I must say, in this changing media landscape where you are constantly barraged with e-mail, with Tweets, with Facebook, are you on Facebook personally?

ABRAMSON

11:37:13
I'm not. I am on Twitter and I've mostly been reading, but I have tweeted. And my children, who are now in their 20s, have given me a very low grade on Twitter. They say I don't get it.

REHM

11:37:29
Jill Abramson. She's executive editor of the New York Times. Her new book, "The Puppy Diaries." We'll take just a short break and come back with your calls and comments.

REHM

11:40:04
And if you've just joined us, Jill Abramson is with me. She was recently named the executive editor of The New York Times, often called the gray lady for its imminence in the publishing and news business. Do join us 800-433-8850. Yet with such an important position, Jill has just published a book. It's titled "The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout." I'm going to go first to South Bend, Indiana because Chris has a question about his or her older yellow lab. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS

11:40:58
Good morning, Diane.

REHM

11:40:59
It's a female. Thank you. Go right ahead.

CHRIS

11:41:03
Yes. Not so much a question, just I wanted to share that I have an older yellow lab that we purchased with our children going into a second marriage as, you know, just really the joining of a family and that was nine years ago. And I have -- we just gone through a divorce and this sweet dog has been my heart through the whole process. You know, at one point because, forgive me.

REHM

11:41:43
No. I totally understand. Go right ahead.

CHRIS

11:41:47
At one -- thank you. At one point I was so depressed and walking the house, you know, miserable and scared for the future. And my children are now in college at Indiana University, so it was Jay and I rattling around the house. And I noticed that he was just acting strange. He was very mokey and, you know, laboring going upstairs to sleep at the foot of my bed and so on. And I became alarmed. He wasn't eating. I took him to the 24-hour, you know, emergency dog care late on a Sunday. And they said, well, he's depressed. You know, he's going through a divorce with you and he is reflecting your behavior it appears, you know.

REHM

11:42:39
Interesting.

CHRIS

11:42:40
Isn't that amazing?

REHM

11:42:41
And that's what happens.

ABRAMSON

11:42:43
It does. And they can be the most sympathetic kind of companion and friend when you're going through troubles. I actually -- your listeners will think I'm a terrible klutz and accident prone, but in "The Puppy Diaries" I talk about after I was recovered. I was at Yellowstone National Park and I was doing a climb up a very steep ridge, probably had no business doing that because my sense of balance isn't perfect. But on the way down, I did something common. I slipped on scree and lost my footing and broke my arm. And I was worried when I got home that, you know, Scout who was 80 pounds and, you know, bundle of energy that she, you know, would bump into me or jump on me and hurt me. But, you know, she sensed right away that something was wrong.

REHM

11:43:41
Really.

ABRAMSON

11:43:41
And she just, like, spent days curled up at my feet just like as gentle as can be and, you know, gave off an aura that was just so comforting and relaxing.

REHM

11:43:54
Well, and that's why they become such effective therapy animals...

ABRAMSON

11:43:59
That's for sure.

REHM

11:44:00
...because they do sense and react very, very favorably. Tell me about The New York Times and how it's changing. It was a recent announcement about the elimination of some positions at The Times.

ABRAMSON

11:44:24
Yeah, very few actually were gonna do some voluntary buyouts. Over the past years we've had to somewhat reduce our news room staff, but actually right now it's as large as it was ten years ago. We still have domestic news bureaus and national correspondents when other so-called national newspapers have really retreated from the major cities in the U.S. And we're a global news gathering organization. We have more foreign bureaus than we've ever had.

ABRAMSON

11:45:06
We just hired some new correspondents for Afghanistan and Pakistan. But this is a period for the news media broadly of transition where, you know, we're moving to a world where, you know, more people are reading us on digital platforms and in print form. And we produce the best news report in the world. And, you know, any way someone wants to read it, I'm happy. So -- but that means you need somewhat to do less of some things and more of new things and, you know, you can't just keep growing. It's a tough economy as we all know.

REHM

11:45:49
And of course you had Vivian Schiller who became ultimately the CEO of NPR who moved from The Times where it was she who I gather was quite instrumental in developing the platforms.

ABRAMSON

11:46:07
She was. I feel she was very much a visionary about the digital world and, you know, helped me our website along with colleagues both on the business side and news side of The Times like a wonder.

REHM

11:46:21
You must have been very saddened to have seen what ultimately evolved here.

ABRAMSON

11:46:28
Of course. And I've been in touch with Vivian and, you know, she's landed on her feet. But it was a sad thing.

REHM

11:46:35
Absolutely. To Martha in Lexington, Mass. Good morning to you. Martha.

MARTHA

11:46:44
Good morning.

REHM

11:46:45
Yes.

MARTHA

11:46:46
Yes, hi.

REHM

11:46:47
Go right ahead, please.

MARTHA

11:46:49
Well, I'm so fascinated by this and am very tempted to talk about Scout, but my question is really about the Anita Hill era. And I'm wondering if you could comment on the role of the individual as a catalyst for something versus a larger kind of societal trend. I wonder if -- I mean, what Anita Hill did was so courageous and an individual act of courage, but at the same time, the times were such that people listened to her and that she felt that it was okay to do that. And I'm wondering about how the press seizes or maybe not seizes, but acknowledges the contributions of an individual versus the individual being a representative of a larger movement.

ABRAMSON

11:47:39
Well, you know, I think that Anita Hill, you used the word catalyst, and I think that's a very, very good word. She was. She saw herself of course as merely a citizen doing her duty, that she came to Washington, the Judiciary Committee asked her to come and she testified. And I'm not sure in real-time she realized the impact of her testimony and that many women across the world understood what sexual harassment was. But it seemed a new issue to many other people.

ABRAMSON

11:48:13
But I think in terms of your question about the media, that it isn't always a happy experience when someone who isn't a well-known person steps forward in a public way, that they become the focus of attention. And the case of Anita Hill, there was a very sophisticated opposition campaign directed at undermining her. And I think going through that was very bruising.

REHM

11:48:43
Here's an email from Clifford who says, "I'm wondering what Mrs. Abramson thinks about the current state of editing. With the great proliferation of news outlets, it seems that editing is becoming a lost art."

ABRAMSON

11:49:03
Yeah, I don't see that at The Times. And I worked at The Wall Street Journal before The Times which, you know, had very professional, strict editing, very high standards as does The Times. But, you know, I think authority heavily edited journalism is wonderful. It's not the only form. And at The Times we've learned to take advantage of blogging, which is a little bit more immediate. Our blogs are edited by the way. And our comments on our side are usually moderated. So it's not the kind of free for all you see elsewhere. And we always want the substance of our news report to be as intelligent as our audience is.

REHM

11:49:53
Jill Abramson, she's executive editor of The New York Times and the author of a new book. It's titled "The Puppy Diaries." And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And one question that has been raised a great deal about The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, many of the news outlets, and that is the liberal...

ABRAMSON

11:50:29
Mm-hmm.

REHM

11:50:29
...so-called liberal stance. How do you see it?

ABRAMSON

11:50:34
You know, I think that the people who see The Times as like a liberal rag are wrong and that they sometimes don't understand the separation between our opinion side, which produces our editorials and our op-eds, and the news report. They're two different things and there's separation between the two. And when I worked at The Wall Street Journal, it was known as a conservative newspaper, again, because of the editorial page. But, you know, the news gathering side played as it was.

REHM

11:51:13
And you continued to feel that that's what happened at The Times and at The Wall Street Journal?

ABRAMSON

11:51:21
I do. I think, you know, the news reporters go into their stories with an open mind. And something I stress to our reporters at The Times is even when you think you know the story, go in ready to be surprised or illuminated by what somebody tells you.

REHM

11:51:42
Here's an email from Caroline in Washington, D.C. Do you think that having a woman lead a news organization makes a difference? If so, how? Isn't that difference worth recognizing?

ABRAMSON

11:52:02
I think it is worth recognizing and I think all -- it's hard for me to talk about women broadly because, you know, I walk in my own skin. But, you know, I think some of the women editors I've worked with are very collaborative. They can be strong leaders, but they like bringing in other people and being second guessed and challenged. And I think I am like that. And that's an important quality if you're the top editor of an important news organization like The Times.

REHM

11:52:41
So go through your ordinary day for me.

ABRAMSON

11:52:47
My ordinary day begins early in the morning.

REHM

11:52:51
What time?

ABRAMSON

11:52:52
6:00. And I have to admit the first thing I reach for is my iPad because I usually been reading it before I go to sleep too. I mean, I mainly read all of the front page stories in The Times and many of the other important stories the night before, because we now publish stories when they're ready. And if it's...

REHM

11:53:16
Exactly.

ABRAMSON

11:53:16
...on the website first, that's great.

REHM

11:53:18
Right.

ABRAMSON

11:53:19
So, you know, I look at top stories to see, you know, have I missed anything, has news developed overnight, you know, and then I'm just reading, reading, reading, reading. I try and send off some complimentary emails 'cause I think it's important when you really love something to let the journalist who's created the work know that. And then I get to work. I get to The Times, which is still near Times Square, but in a new building which is quite beautiful.

REHM

11:53:51
About what time?

ABRAMSON

11:53:53
I get there usually, you know, 9:00-ish.

REHM

11:53:55
Mm-hmm.

ABRAMSON

11:53:56
And by then I will have, you know, consumed every bit of The Times, this news report. I read The Wall Street Journal. I, you know, read the FT I think is a very good paper.

REHM

11:54:10
I totally agree.

ABRAMSON

11:54:11
My guilty pleasure from the days that I was just growing up in Manhattan on my subway ride is The New York Post. I even look at my horoscope in that.

REHM

11:54:23
Oh, great. As do I each and every day.

ABRAMSON

11:54:27
So, you know, just the early morning is a read-a-thon and then our first news meeting is at 10:00. So from 9:00 to 10:00 I'm kind of walking the floor and talking to different reporters and editors to try to get...

REHM

11:54:40
About what they're working on.

ABRAMSON

11:54:41
Yeah, what's up and...

REHM

11:54:42
Yeah.

ABRAMSON

11:54:42
...you know, hoping for big news. And we then go into a 10:00 a.m. meeting which is very much about the home page and what stories will be ready 'cause we want, you know, our great signature journalism to be, you know, constantly refreshed. And we now have the digital subscription plans, so our heaviest users are being asked to pay for our journalism, though we still remain part of the free web for many, many people.

REHM

11:55:16
Are you involved with lunches each day?

ABRAMSON

11:55:20
I try to. Several times a week I have lunches with clusters of reporters or...

REHM

11:55:26
I see.

ABRAMSON

11:55:27
...web producers.

REHM

11:55:28
Good.

ABRAMSON

11:55:28
I just had a great lunch. We do sandwiches in my office with some reporters in our sports department. And with the World Series coming up and football season starting and, you know, the terrible racetrack accident...

REHM

11:55:44
Oh, wasn't that awful.

ABRAMSON

11:55:44
...there was plenty, plenty to talk about.

REHM

11:55:46
I should say. What time do you get home in the evening?

ABRAMSON

11:55:50
You know, home, I sometimes get home late 'cause often there's something at night that I want to do that's work related.

REHM

11:55:58
And is...

ABRAMSON

11:55:58
I'm a real culture vulture, so...

REHM

11:56:00
...is Henry with you?

ABRAMSON

11:56:02
Henry splits his week between our house in Connecticut and New York. And he stays busy. But, you know, I try to get home and spend time with him during the week. And the weekend is really quiet and a sanctuary...

REHM

11:56:16
Lovely.

ABRAMSON

11:56:16
...and as Henry and Scout and I taking the best walks imaginable.

REHM

11:56:23
And always Scout. How old is Scout now?

ABRAMSON

11:56:27
She's two and a half now.

REHM

11:56:29
And a beauty.

ABRAMSON

11:56:31
She is a beauty and a delight.

REHM

11:56:33
Jill Abramson, she's executive editor of The New York Times. She's also a dog lover as I am and the author of a new book "The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout." Thank you for being here.

ABRAMSON

11:56:55
It's been a joy, Diane.

REHM

11:56:57
Thank you. Good to see you again. Thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.

ANNOUNCER

11:57:02
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