Newsweek Lays Off Dozens, Just in Time for Christmas

Things have really come full circle for the perpetually troubled liberal magazine Newsweek, since it infamously smeared Newt Gingrich on its cover as "the Gingrich who stole Christmas." Eighteen years later, Newsweek is literally doing that to more than 50 employees it fired on Friday.

The pink-slipped staff for the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company received a letter from Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown and Chief Executive Officer Baba Shetty on Friday that can be summed up in four words: “Happy holidays. You're fired.”

The email announcement that as many as half of the people on the editorial staff are losing their jobs has drawn comments ranging from “a sad day” to “the best news I've heard all afternoon.”

The letter read in part:

The sad moment has arrived when we must go forth with the editorial staff reductions that we discussed in person with all of you several weeks ago. Employees in the affected positions will be notified today.

“This is a very difficult day, and one that we approach with enormous regret,” they stated. “We are working to ensure that the process is handled as sensitively as possible.”

Noah Rothman of the Mediaite website called the missive a “sad” and “somber” letter that was signed by “Tina and Baba.” She stated that sources in the company called the action a “bloodbath.”

"The cuts will be substantial," a person familiar with the situation told Joe Pompeo of the Atlantic Wire. "Even with the cuts, they're over budget."

From a more pragmatic perspective, business news analyst Rick Edmonds told Jeff Sonderman, the digital media fellow at the Poynter Institute:

The fourth quarter does tend to be prime time for layoffs. Most companies budget for the following year beginning in September and October, and if they’ve decided they need fewer people for the following year, this is usually when the cuts occur.

As NewsBusters previously reported, Newsweek announced in July that the company would cease publishing a print edition at the end of 2012 and focus on an online version of the magazine in the following year.

One of the reasons for the change was the loss of funding from the family of late billionaire Sidney Harman, which was announced in July.

For the past several years, the magazine has remained in the public eye through its desperately controversial covers, including one that asked “Why Are Obama's Critics So Dumb?" back in January; another that declared Obama the “First Gay President” in May; and a recent edition that compared the president to Napoleon Bonaparte while lambasting the GOP as 'Old,' 'White,' and 'History'.

Perhaps those are one the reasons anonymous blogger Jammie stated that the downsizing of the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company was the “best news I've had all afternoon.”

After listing the troubles that business has gone through this year, Jammie asked: “Now where'd I leave that world's smallest violin?”

Anyone notice since the election, nobody is being hired anywhere but massive layoffs are occurring all over the place? Funny how that’s working out.

“You might not have a job, but you helped get Obama re-elected, and isn’t that all that matters?" Jammie asked the former Newsweek employees.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall