Group photo ProPublica’s Paul Steiger, Arthur Sulzberger, Jill Abramson, and Reuters’ Stephen Adler (also a member of CJR’s board). (Eileen Barroso / Columbia University)
On May 28, Columbia University photographer Eileen Barroso captured a historic, if uncomfortable New York Times moment at the Pulitzer Prize luncheon: the last portrait of former Executive Editor Jill Abramson and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. in public together for what will likely be a long time.
The luncheon was just two weeks after Abramson, the first woman to become top editor at the Times, had been unceremoniously booted by Sulzberger from her job and replaced with Dean Baquet, the first African American to hold the position. Sulzberger’s decision to fire Abramson sent shockwaves through the media community, leading to unceasing speculation and incremental coverage that was still unfurling when the prizes were awarded.
The New York Times won two Pulitzers under Abramson this year, for breaking news and feature photography. Sulzberger was part of the Times’ party at the event. Abramson attended as a member of the Journalism School’s Board of Visitors*, putting the former duo at separate tables.
At one point, however, they were standing near one another, involved in separate conversations, when Barroso spotted them and asked them to pose together.
When news leaked out that both Abramson and Sulzberger attended the ceremony, the Pulitzer office was soon fielding calls from the media asking them to verify that Abramson and Sulzberger had met at the event, and to release any photos taken of them together. Pulitzer Prize administrator Sig Gissler initially declined to release the photograph. He had a change of heart, and sent it over to Columbia Journalism Review.
*This post has been updated to correct Jill Abramson’s attendance affiliation at the Pulitzer luncheon; She went as a member of the Board of Visitors, not as a guest of the Pulitzer Board.