Assessing the bloodbath at Newsweek: Several top masthead spots are eliminated, but full extent is hard to gauge

Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

Now that the dust has settled over at the offices of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, where pink slips were being handed out Thursday afternoon, names of the unfortunate staffers are starting to trickle out.

The most notable, so far, is managing editor Tom Watson, whose fealty to NewsBeast editor-in-chief Tina Brown dates all the way back to her short-lived Talk magazine escapade in the late '90s and early aughts.

Watson had joined Newsweek in 2001, long before it was even a glimmer in the eye of The Daily Beast's parent company, IAC. Then in 2009 he went to work for Brown at The Beast, only for the website to merge with Newsweek less than two years later after the magazine's sale from The Washington Post Company.

But with Newsweek's print edition hitting stands for the last time on Dec. 31 as the venerable but money-losing magazine prepares to go digital-only under the new title Newsweek Global, there's not as much room on the masthead anymore. So Watson's departure was expected, insiders said.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

Over at Daily Intel, Joe Coscarelli reports that Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan is also among the casualties.

"I plan to work on my book about the 1973 Versailles fashion show and look for a new job," she told Daily Intel. Givhan left her job at The Washington Post Style section in 2010 to come work for Brown.

Capital has also learned of two other senior editorial positions that have been eliminated—those of David Jefferson, the features director, and Kara Cutruzzula, who edits Newsweek's culture section, "Omnivore."

Beyond that, Newsweek's art department has apparently been hit hard, including assistant art director Rob DiIeso and designer Vanessa Saba. As we reported earlier, design director Lindsay Ballant is leaving for a fellowship; two other staffers, iPad editor Melissa Lafsky and commentary editor Damon Linker, also gave notice shortly before the layoffs commenced.

One source said it appeared as if half the newsroom had been let go. But another said that estimate was exaggerated. The headcount in NewsBeast's West Chelsea offices is around 270.

It's unclear how many of the combined entity's roughly 100 unionized employees have been impacted. Bill O'Meara, president of the union that represents them, the Newspaper Guild of New York, declined to comment Thursday beyond confirming that the Guild had been notified that the layoffs were to occur.

In other news, Bloomberg reported that The Daily Beast "is contemplating a shift to so-called metered access" such as the paid digital model adopted last year by The New York Times.

Newsweek Global is expected to be a subscription-based offering. It will be helmed by Tunku Varadarajan, the erstwhile editor of Newsweek International, which the new digital title will absorb.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said that Watson joined Newsweek in 2007, not 2001.