February 26, 2018

GRADUALLY, THEN SUDDENLY: How Newsweek Collapsed.

In fall 2017, a high-ranking editor at Newsweek was fired four days after filing a grievance to the magazine’s human resources department, complaining of gender discrimination and bullying, and proposing an agreement to leave the company. Her termination letter, which Slate viewed, did not mention the HR complaints. Instead, it laid out a laundry list of performance and conduct concerns.

Sources familiar with her dismissal differ on its legitimacy, but some of the language from her termination letter is striking in light of what has transpired at the magazine since. Her alleged sins included undermining the company’s attempt to enforce aggressive page-view quotas for reporters, insufficient commitment to search engine optimization, and rejecting story proposals for being “not Newsweek.” (At most publications, shooting down story ideas that don’t fit the editorial ethos is an essential part of editors’ jobs.) The letter also faulted her for making an “inflammatory allegation” in a conference call with other top editors. Her inflammatory allegation, according to the termination letter: that “the company had real problem(s) of morale and credibility.”

Just a few months later, that assessment reads as a dramatic understatement.

And:

Amid the turmoil, the magazine on Feb. 9 announced after an outside investigation that it was reinstating a top editor it had suspended just weeks earlier over sexual harassment allegations at his previous employer. That prompted a fresh exodus of female staffers.

Why are leftwing publications such cesspits of boys’-club misogyny?

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