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Former Times editor Jill Abramson speaks at BU

Jill Abramson and David Carr focused on the proliferation of media and journalism’s changing landscape.
Jill Abramson and David Carr focused on the proliferation of media and journalism’s changing landscape.Josh Reynolds/Boston Globe

Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of The New York Times who lost her spot on the masthead in an abrupt shakeup last spring, made a rare public-speaking appearance at Boston University on Monday. A visiting lecturer at Harvard these days, Abramson sat down with David Carr, the Times media critic and newly minted professor in BU’s College of Communications. Anyone expecting Abramson to dish on the circumstances surrounding her awkward departure from the Times — she was unceremoniously dismissed by publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and replaced by Dean Baquet — was disappointed. (Asked by an audience member what role sexism played in her firing, Abramson wouldn’t take the bait.) Her remarks at BU’s Tsai Performance Center instead focused on the proliferation of media and what the bewildering array of outlets means for consumers of news. (WBUR will broadcast the talk Tuesday at 8 p.m. and again Sunday at 8 p.m.) Carr said the media landscape is changing rapidly, admitting that he’s “kind of gotten out of [predicting] the future because I have trouble keeping up with the present.” Abramson cited the avalanche of reporting on the Ebola outbreak as an example of more media not being better media. “It’s disgraceful, in many respects,” she said. “I’m reading all these stories about the panic. Well, who caused the panic? Two people are sick and one person has died. That’s what’s happened in the US.” She said she enjoys teaching, but also misses “the chase” of reporting the news. “I see big stories that jump out at me that aren’t being covered,” she said. For that reason, Abramson said she’s likely not done with journalism, and is working with Steve Brill on a startup whose goal would be to do “killer journalism . . . offering great journalists real money that they can live on.”