By Jackson Richman
On Monday, Newsweek fired its top editorial staff and some reporters, in addition to sending home its entire staff for the day. Why did this happen and what does it mean for its competitors?
CNN’s Hadas Gold reported:
Employees at Newsweek have been told that editor-in-chief Bob Roe and executive editor Ken Li have been fired, sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
A reporter, Celeste Katz, who had written articles about financial issues at the magazine as well as an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office into its parent company, Newsweek Media Group, was also let go, the sources said.
The news comes during a turbulent time for the magazine. Just last week the co-owner and chairman of Newsweek Media Group, Etienne Uzac, and his wife Marion Kim, who acted as the company’s finance director, both stepped down.
Last month the Manhattan District Attorney’s office raided the company’s offices, taking several servers. Newsweek itself, in a story co-written by Katz and Josh Saul, reported that the raid was part of a long-running investigation into the company’s finances.
The New York Post, citing a source close to the company, reported last month that the Manhattan DA’s probe is focused on the financial connection between former Newsweek Media Group executives and a Christian college, Olivet University. Olivet said in a statement last month that it is “inaccurate” to say there is a connection between the raid and the university. Uzac, Kim and other Newsweek Media Group executives have direct ties to the university.
In addition to being under investigation, Newsweek has been accused of left-wing bias by organizations like the Media Research Center, which monitors and reports on liberal media bias. “Newsweek is a hot mess,” MRC’s Tim Graham said to The National Discourse. “Its ‘reporting’ has been outrageous clickbait, dwelling heavily on the most spurious anti-Trump cliches. Its branding sounds more like Olbermann Week.”
Examples of Newsweek’s liberal bias, highlighted by the MRC, include stories with headlines like “Oops! Ivanka Trump Vacation Photo Has Confederate Flag on Boat Behind Jared Kushner,” “Is Melania Leaving President Trump? After Body Double Rumors, You Can Now Bet On It,” and “President Hillary is ‘Where America Is Great Again.”
(Disclosure: I interned at the Media Research Center in Spring 2017.)
“We always struggle whether we should actually critique this media outlet as if it still belonged to a media establishment, instead of being a howling leftist blog like the Daily Kos,” Graham said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see it all fall apart, and no one who’s serious about journalism would miss it.”
However, according to media business analyst Rick Edmonds, Newsweek’s decline is attributed to the outlet bleeding money. “Newsweek has been in financial decline for a long time with a succession of owners and a shrinking staff,” he told The Discourse. “It was a great brand in its day and still attracts investors and journalists hoping it can be turned around.”
Edmonds added, “Even with the chaos of the last month or so, it may hang on in a much diminished state.”
Is what happening to Newsweek indicative of the future of other magazines?