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. Newsweek is coming apart at the seams. On Feb. 5, the magazine fired three of its top journalists, including the editor in chief, who had been investigating the financial dealings of its parent company, Newsweek Media Group, in the wake of a surprise raid of its offices by investigators for the Manhattan district attorney. Those firings touched off a cascade of public resignations and recriminations at the once-proud publication, leaving its management jumbled and its newsroom gutted. 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.
This week, a cadre of Newsweek’s remaining top editors threatened to resign unless their bosses allowed them to publish one of the investigative stories the fired staffers had been working on. The company’s executives backed down, and the story—headlined “Why Is the Manhattan DA Looking at Newsweek’s Ties to a Christian University?”—ran on Tuesday. It began with an explosive editor’s note accusing Newsweek Media Group’s management of “egregious” breaches of journalistic ethics in the story’s review process.