Chaos at Newsweek Continues as Staff Leaves, Editors Challenge Executive’s ‘Bulls**t’

John Gress/Getty Images

The chaos at Newsweek continues as more than a dozen staffers left the magazine and a recording of a contentious meeting between Newsweek Media Group interim Chief Content Officer Johnathan Davis and staff was obtained by the Daily Beast.

By the time the Daily Beast reported on the meeting where one editor asked if the media outlet was a “money laundering operation” and another told Davis his leadership style was “bullshit” because he blamed journalists for the outlet’s ongoing troubles, more than a dozen people had quit.

The latest drama comes after the firing last week of Editor-in-Chief Bob Roe, Executive Editor Ken Li, and reporter Celeste Katz. The Daily Beast reported:

Last month, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office raided Newsweek Media Group’s headquarters in New York as part of an ongoing investigation into the company for potential financial crimes. On Monday, Newsweek Media Group fired editor in chief Bob Roe, executive editor Ken Li, and reporter Celeste Katz, who reported on the raid and recent allegations that the company engaged in traffic and advertising fraud.

On Wednesday, reported that 14 journalists at Newsweek had resigned and three at the company’s International Business Times had stepped down:

Among those who have resigned include Newsweek deputy breaking news editor Jason Silverstein, deputy opinion editor Rachel Brody, senior writer Matthew Cooper, international security and terrorism correspondent Jack Moore, columnist Kevin Maney, and staff writers Sam Schwarz, Leah Thomas, Linley Sanders, John Haltiwanger, Christianna Silva, Lauren Gill, Summer Meza, Kastalia Medrano, and Beatrice Dupuy.

David Sirota, the star senior editor for investigations at IBT, has also resigned, along with IBT investigative reporters Jay Cassano and Alex Kotch.

Silverstein, Brody, and Schwarz all confirmed in tweets Wednesday that they had resigned from the company.

On Thursday, Moore, Sanders, and Haltiwanger announced that they, too, had resigned. On Friday, Maney announced that he had resigned, citing the recent firings as the reason for his decision. On Friday afternoon, Kotch, Cassano, Silva Gill, Meza, Medrano, and Dupuy announced their resignations on Twitter.

“Newsweek Media Group interim Chief Content Officer Johnathan Davis took questions from editors for nearly 90 minutes on Wednesday, according to a recording obtained by The Daily Beast, about firings and investigations that have engulfed the company,” the Daily Beast reported.

“[The raid] led to the BuzzFeed article about the fake clicks, which you orchestrated,” breaking news editor Gersh Kuntzman said. “So you should be honest with everybody in this room: Are we running a money laundering operation? Are we evading taxes? You need to tell us that because we can’t work here if you’re a liar.”

“There’s an investigation going on right now that’s active,” Davis responded. “And they’re going to come up with their own conclusions. And when that comes out, you’re going to know the answer.”

The Daily Beast reported:

The interim CCO said that Roe and Li had overseen the degradation of Newsweek’s content, citing a recent widely criticized piece that argued why Hillary Clinton could serve out Donald Trump’s term as president.

Newsweek editors pushed back, saying that the article was a partial result of the traffic goals that management forced reporters and editors to meet.

“What you’re doing is bullshit,” Silverstein said. “You don’t understand journalism, and so you’re trying to pick apart these things that you think we should’ve done, and you’re trying to convince us that it’s somehow our fault.”

Davis ended the meeting by saying that editors who disagreed with him should find new jobs, according to the Daily Beast.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.