First Look Media ends ‘Racket’ project, fires staff
First Look Media has decided to pull the plug on "Racket," its would-be digital magazine, and to fire the staff that had been hired for the project.
"Racket," which was to train a humorous eye on political and corporate corruption, never got off the ground.
The magazine was to be helmed by Matt Taibbi, a former Rolling Stone editor, until Taibbi left the company in October.
"Since Matt Taibbi’s departure, we’ve been working with the team he hired to consider various options for launching a project without him," First Look Media announced in an unsigned post. "After multiple explorations, we’ve decided not to pursue the project. Unfortunately, this means that the team Matt hired will be let go."
The fate of Taibbi's staff, including executive editor Alex Pareene, formerly of Salon, had thus far been unclear.
"Though their tenure was brief, we appreciate the passion and energy each member of the team brought to the workplace, not to mention their hard work on behalf of Matt’s original project," First Look said of the staff. "We wish them all the best."
In addition to Pareene and Taibbi, Racket's staff was to include The Hairpin founding editor Edith Zimmerman, video journalist Laura Dawn, former The Wire political editor Elle Reeve, and Jonathan Schwarz, formerly of MichaelMoore.com, though it's not clear if any had left the publication prior to today's announcement.
After the news broke, Reeve wrote on Twitter: "Thank you everyone who is gchatting me rn but the entire @RacketTeen staff has to go get drunk now."
The beginning of the end for "Racket" seemed to be a Oct. 28 New York magazine story, which reported that Taibbi had "disappeared" from the company. First Look Media confirmed Taibbi's departure in a statement later that night from company founder Pierre Omidyar.
Then, two days later, four of the journalists most often associated with First Look—Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and John Cook—gave an exhaustive, blow-by-blow account of the events leading to Taibbi's unceremonious departure.
"Taibbi’s dispute with his bosses instead centered on differences in management style and the extent to which First Look would influence the organizational and corporate aspects of his role as editor-in-chief," the four wrote at the time.
Of the now-shuttered "Racket," they noted: "The fate of the remaining Racket staff remains uncertain."