Newsweek has published the story of its own legal investigation featuring a note from editors that accuses the magazine’s parent company of firing three editorial staff, including the editor, for “doing their jobs”.
Magazine editor Bob Roe, executive news director Kenneth Li and reporter Celeste Katz are understood to have been given their marching orders earlier this month, prompting political editor Matthew Cooper to resign.
- November 16, 2018
- March 23, 2018
- March 8, 2018
It followed their attempt to report on a raid at the company’s US offices by the Manhattan district attorney last month in which several servers were confiscated as part as a probe into the company’s finances.
Their article was published in full on the Newsweek website on Tuesday, titled: “Why is the Manhattan DA looking at Newsweek’s ties to a Christian university?” and credited to Katz and reporters Josh Keefe and Josh Saul.
It alleges that Newsweek Media Group had links with Olivet University, California, that was attempting to open a satellite campus in Dover, New York.
The university reportedly offered free advertising in the pages of Newsweek magazine worth $149,000 to Dover county officials in exchange for construction permit approvals and tax breaks for the campus.
An editor’s note, published as a preamble to the story, claimed that Roe, Katz and Li were fired for “doing their jobs”. It said Keefe and Saul were also “targeted for firing before an editor persuaded the company to reverse its decision”.
It said reporters involved in the story were asked to take part in a “review process” which, the note claims, “involved egregious breaches of confidentiality and journalism ethics”.
“We believe that subjects of the story were shown parts of the draft, if not the entire piece, prior to publication by a company executive who should not have been involved in the process,” it said.
“At an on-the-record interview with the subjects of this story, a company official asked editors to identify confidential sources. On-the-record sources were contacted and questioned about their discussions with Newsweek Media Group reporters.
“We resisted their efforts to influence the story and, after learning of the review’s ethical failings, the reporters and editors involved in this story felt they would be forced to resign.
“At that point, a senior Newsweek Media Group executive said the company’s owners would ensure independent review and newsroom autonomy going forward.”
The note adds that the story was written and edited on Tuesday “free of interference from company executives”.
Newsweek is owned by Newsweek Media Group, formerly IBT Media, which also publishes news website the International Business Times.
Press Gazette has previously reported concerns from journalists at the IB Times UK about an over-reliance on a newsroom culture of “ripping” stories from other news outlets.
Multiple sources told Press Gazette that some of the title’s reporters spend most of their time rewriting stories published elsewhere rather than on original reporting.