WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — In her first public appearance since her dismissal from The New York Times, former executive editor Jill Abramson compared herself to a new college graduate: "scared but also a little excited."
"What's next for me? I don't know. So I'm in exactly the same boat as many of you," Abramson told the Class of 2014 at Wake Forest University's graduation ceremony on Monday, to laughs and applause.
The Times announced last week that Abramson was being replaced by managing editor Dean Baquet. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has denied reports that Abramson's dismissal had to do with complaints over unequal pay or the company's treatment of women. Instead, he cited Abramson's newsroom management style.
In her speech, Abramson focused on a theme of resilience, talking briefly about her time at the helm of The New York Times but not directly addressing her dismissal. She said she didn't want the "media circus" following her to take attention away from the graduates.
"It was the honor of my life to lead the newsroom," she said, describing the risks Times journalists take to report the news.
"Sure, losing a job you love hurts, but the work I revere — journalism that holds powerful institutions and people accountable — is what makes our democracy so resilient. This is the work I will remain very much a part of."
Abramson decided not to attend Brandeis University's weekend graduation, where she was supposed to receive an honorary degree. But she went ahead with the Wake Forest speech. Abramson said students there had asked whether she would remove her tattoo of The Times' 'T.'
"Not a chance!" she said.
Among her journalism heroes, Abramson listed former New York Times reporter Nan Robertson, who wrote a book describing the fight for workplace parity by the newspaper's female employees, and former Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.
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