Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Over 100 Staffers Leave Newsweek

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on March 30, 2008


The staff of Newsweek will shrink dramatically, after 111 staffers on its news and business sides accepted a buyout last week. Among those leaving are some of the magazine’s best-known, most-admired and longest-service critics, including David Gates, David Ansen and Cathleen McGuigan. Harold Shain, a former president of the magazine who moved over to sister publication Budget Travel at the beginning of this year, is also departing.

146 staffers were offered the chance to leave the magazine, with as much as two years of their current salary as a departing bonus, depending on their age and length of service. The package also includes pension sweetners and the chance to continue health insurance coverage until the age of 65. More staffers than expected accepted the offer, so at least some their jobs are likely to be filled by new hires. But dozens of positions will be eliminated permanently.

The departure of so many senior staffers at once—all of them are expected to be gone by the end of this year—will mean the loss of much of the magazine’s institutional memory, as well as many of its most talented writers and editors. All of the chief researchers are also leaving, including Nancy Stadtman, Ray Sawhill and Ray Anello, and their positions may be eliminated.

Other longtime senior editors who accepted the buyout include Nancy Cooper, George Hackett and Alexis Gelber. Senior Editor Jerry Adler is reportedly still considering the offer.

Top political writers Jonathan Alter and Howard Fineman were also offered the buyout but declined it, and will continue in their current positions. Fineman told Radar, “my sense was that they wanted me to stay, and I am delighted to be doing so… I’m a lucky—and happy—guy.” Alter said, “Because I’ve turned 50 I was just barely eligible under the terms, but I’m not taking it.”

Most foreign and national correspondents were excluded from the offer. Longtime Washington powerhouse Evan Thomas will also continue there.

Key people leaving on the business side include Ray Pavlik, the go-to-man for many years in human resources, and Rebecca Pratt, a top technology expert.

This is the latest reverberation from the continuing decline in revenues and circulation of major print publications around the world—most of it attributable to the impact of the Internet. Newsweek is the third major news organization to offer buyouts to scores of staffers this year, following the lead of The New York Times, and Newsweek’s sister publication, The Washington Post. This is the second major buyout at Newsweek in six years. The first one claimed senior staffers like Lucy Howard, art critic Peter Plagens, long time religion editor Ken Woodward, Jean Seligman, Joan Engels, and David Alpern.

Plagens still writes occasionally for the magazine as a contributing editor, and David Ansen (the magazine’s senior—and much-loved—movie critic since 1977) and Cathleen McGuigan may also continue to contribute after they cease to be staffers this year.

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