Newsweek Guts Its Top Edit Staff Amid Legal Turmoil
Staffers who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity pointed out that the fired editors had all published pieces reporting on the company’s recent troubles.
Newsweek on Monday fired all of its top staff amid turmoil that has upended the newsroom.
In a company meeting, several editors announced that the outlet had fired Editor in Chief Bob Roe, Executive Editor Ken Li and reporters Celeste Katz, Josh Saul, and International Business Times editor Josh Keefe.
The editors told staffers some of the firings were not official, but according to one person with direct knowledge, both Katz and Keefe were locked out of their work email and computer accounts and instructed to meet a human-resources representative offsite shortly after Roe was fired.
Newsweek also sent staff home for the day.
Though the editors did not elaborate on why the top staff left the company, three staffers who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity pointed out that Li, Katz, Saul, and Keefe had all published pieces reporting on the company’s recent troubles.
The legacy news magazine (which was previously owned by IAC, The Daily Beast’s parent company) has been rocked by turnover since it was reported that Manhattan law-enforcement officials were investigating the company’s finances. Manhattan District Attorney’s office agents raided the company’s headquarters last month, and seized more than a dozen of the company’s servers.
Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that the company engaged in “fraudulent online traffic practices” to help secure an online ad buy from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Etienne Uzac, the owner of Newsweek’s parent company, and Marion Kim, the company’s finance director, stepped down last week. The company also announced last week that Chief Content Officer Dayan Candappa was put on leave following harassment allegations.
In a letter to Newsweek’s CEO announcing his resignation, senior writer Matthew Cooper said he had “never seen more reckless leadership.”
“This coup de grace comes at the end of a string of scandals and missteps during your tenure,” he wrote.
“Leaving aside the police raid and harassment scandal—a dependent clause I never thought I would write—it’s the installation of editors, not Li and Roe, who recklessly sought clicks at the expense of accuracy, retweets over fairness, that leaves me most despondent not only for Newsweek but for other publications that don't heed the lessons of this publication’s fall.”
And in a memo to staff on Monday afternoon, Newsweek said the company would not comment on the staff changes, but confirmed that Roe and Li were “leaving the business,” and announced that IBT’s current managing editor Nancy Cooper would become the acting editor of Newsweek.