Newsweek political editor resigns over 'firing' of four journalists including US mag's editor

Newsweek’s political editor has resigned over the apparent firing of the magazine’s editor and two other members of the news team, with the future of the US title – which turns 85 this year – in doubt.

Magazine editor Bob Roe, executive news director Kenneth Li and reporter Celeste Katz were given their marching orders on Monday, it has been reported.

Their apparent dismissal prompted political editor Matthew Cooper to resign, sharing his letter of resignation on Twitter.

Newsweek is owned by Newsweek Media Group, formerly IBT Media, which also publishes news website the International Business Times.

The reported sackings follow a raid on Newsweek Media Group’s US offices in January by the Manhattan district attorney, in which several servers were confiscated as part as an investigation into the company’s finances.

The raid was reported in an article by Katz and reporter Josh Saul, which was published on Newsweek.

Last week, co-owner and chairman of Newsweek Media Group, Etienne Uzac, and his wife, the company’s finance director Marion Kim, both stepped down.

On Monday, Cooper tweeted his letter of resignation, addressed to Newsweek Media Group chief executive Dev Pragad, in which he called the situation at the magazine “untenable”.

Cooper, a journalist of more than 30 years experience who has twice worked for Newsweek, including since 2014, said Rose and Li’s “efforts to pursue scandals at Newsweek were admirable” and that their reported firing, along with two reporters, was a “disgrace”.

He told Pragad: “This coup d’grace comes at the end of a string of scandals and missteps during your tenure.

“Leaving aside the police raid and harassment scandal – a dependent clause I never thought I would write – it’s the installation of editors, not Li and Roe, who recklessly sought clicks at the expense of accuracy, retweets over fairness, that leaves me most despondent not only for Newsweek but for other publications that don’t heed the lessons of this publication’s fall.”

Cooper said staff had been sent home on Monday,  adding that “the magazine, for all we know, doesn’t exist”.

An anonymous source told the Wrap that amid Cooper’s resignation, staff were given the rest of the day off and were “downloading their articles off the website, talking with their sources and transferring their work contacts”.

The source added: “There is alcohol out and most people are just comforting each other.”

Li, Katz, Saul, and Keefe had all written about financial troubles facing the magazine, which has been the subject of financial investigations.

After her dismissal, Katz tweeted: “My warmest thanks to the brave Newsweek editors and colleagues who supported and shared in my work — especially our recent, difficult stories about the magazine itself — before my dismissal today. I’ll sleep well tonight… and I’m looking for a job.”

Press Gazette contacted Newsweek Media Group both in the US and UK for comment, but has yet to hear back.

Newsweek is understood to employ about a dozen staff based in London and some 60 in the US.

Picture: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

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