Jill Abramson

It took 160 years, but if finally happened. A woman—a talented and experienced journalist—took over the executive editor position at The New York Times. Appropriate, I suppose, for a newspaper dubbed The Gray Lady.

On this Change of Venue Friday, I point you toward a news story that signals a real change. I decided to read the coverage of the appointment of Jill Abramson as written in the Washington Postread the whole story here.

(You can read The New York Times story here.)

The Post reporters offered up an analysis of the paper’s move that pointed to dark economic storm clouds:

“Abramson’s appointment was part of a sweeping and symbolic series of changes at the newspaper, which is both a journalistic leader and one that reflects its industry’s deepening financial crisis.”

“She takes over a newspaper that has doubled down on its journalism in tough economic times, resisting the cuts to staff and budgets that other papers have chosen as advertisers and readers migrate to other, mostly digital sources of news.”

This is a great step, and the Times should be commended for making a terrific choice. But I can’t help thinking that when advancement for many groups that are historically unrepresented finally occurs, it almost always occurs at a certain time. That is, when times are bad.

I’m sure that Abramson will do a great job; she’s spent her entire career getting ready for this lofty position. But how much more could she have done if she had been offered the job in economic boom times. She takes the helm as staff is cut, investigative reporting is on the ropes, and story lengths are cut.

That cannot be the most fun time to be a newspaper editor.

Congratulations to her and the Times. And here’s hoping opportunities like this will come as readily even as the economy gets better.

Have a great weekend.