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.
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.
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. Katz was seen cleaning out her desk, one source close to the newsroom said.
Staff in Newsweek's New York offices were told they could stop working and go home for the day on Monday afternoon, the source close to the newsroom told CNN.
"Can confirm I was fired. I know nothing else. Can say nothing else yet," Roe told CNN in an email.
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, reported that the raid was part of a long-running investigation into the company's finances.
Li could not immediately be reached for comment, though he tweeted, "What a day to leave my charger at home." Katz declined to comment. A spokesman for Newsweek said the company would not have any comment on personnel matters.
Senior writer Matthew Cooper tendered his resignation on Monday as a result of the chaos, saying in a resignation letter obtained by CNN that he has never "seen more reckless leadership."
"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," Cooper said in the letter.