What the heck is going on at Newsweek?
February 5, 2018 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Last month, agents of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office raided Newsweek's headquarters and seized more than a dozen of the company’s servers. Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that the company had engaged in “fraudulent online traffic practices." That same week, Newsweek Media Group co-founder and chairman Etienne Uzac and his wife Marion Kim, NMG's director of finance, both stepped down - amid increasing allegations about their ties to a controversial fundamentalist Christian church. And today, it was announced that Newsweek had gutted its editorial staff, firing Editor in Chief Bob Roe, Executive Editor Ken Li, and several reporters - all of whom had recently been reporting on Newsweek's recent legal troubles.
posted by showbiz_liz (22 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the Daily Beast article:

In a letter to Newsweek’s CEO announcing his resignation, senior writer Matthew Cooper said he had “never seen more reckless leadership.”

“This coup de grace comes at the end of a string of scandals and missteps during your tenure,” he wrote.

“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.”

posted by showbiz_liz at 2:55 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]


From the Mother Jones article: A list of prayer topics shared among members in April 2006 urged them to “Click constantly!” on IBT’s various websites.

Welcome to the future, which involves using the power of religious devotion to create a click farm.
posted by clawsoon at 2:58 PM on February 5 [17 favorites]


Welcome to the future, which involves using the power of religious devotion to create a click farm.

You’ll never believe this one weird trick for eternal life!
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:06 PM on February 5 [49 favorites]


You know, way back when I was a kid, starlets would be accused of doing shady things to keep their fading careers from falling, get scandalously exposed, and then everyone would be cruelly gossiping about their dysfunctional spiral to oblivion, and their "sad last days" as their reputations imploded.

The press, on the other hand, would be valiantly exposing the rot of the titans and be revered for their bravery and honesty.

2018, kids. The roles have been reversed. The press has imploded with Newsweek having scandals trying to reverse their fortunes, and it's Hollywood actresses who are doing exposés that get them plaudits for their bravery and honesty.

I will not be surprised when those actresses win a Pulitzer, and Newsweek gets the E! True Hollywood Story treatment...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 3:13 PM on February 5 [31 favorites]


Welcome to the future, which involves using the power of religious devotion to create a click farm.

Click here to follow me and I will make you phishers of men.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:16 PM on February 5 [162 favorites]


I still possess a joke domain registration I acquired more than a decade ago that I considered the perfect hybrid of Newsweek, Wikileaks and The Onion: NEWSLEEK.COM (don't go there, nothing to see, honest). Its time may have finally come.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:40 PM on February 5 [13 favorites]


Unless I'm missing something, I don't see anything illegal (perhaps the "internships" reflect a fair labor violation). In that case, is this just not another bunch of secretive zealots with a loud megaphone?
posted by VeniceGlass at 4:00 PM on February 5


Welcome to the future, which involves using the power of religious devotion to create a click farm.

Ha, no, this is straight out of the distant past. Using religion for profit may actually be the oldest trick in the book, good or otherwise.
posted by Sangermaine at 4:02 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I don't see anything illegal

Intentionally inflating traffic is a fraud on their advertisers.
posted by rhizome at 4:02 PM on February 5 [15 favorites]


So THAT is what International Business Times is! I kept running into it online...ugh.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:45 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


OMFG. This is actually about ethics in journalism. About. Damn. Time.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:34 PM on February 5 [20 favorites]


I really need to re-read Mao II.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:44 PM on February 5


OMFG. This is actually about ethics in journalism. About. Damn. Time.

Oh, I talk about ethics in journalism, all the damn time.

I do. I pull no punches. I have had it with it. I so want to hold a massive intervention for the profession. I believe in a radical revolution in content, structure, methods, education, and even the business model.

The collapse of the profession is so pathetic, and I am a true believer that citizens absolutely need to be informed.

Never in my worst nightmare, could I imagine it fall so horrifically -- but it has. I know I a not the only one, but try getting through is nearly impossible.

But I keep plugging. That industry needs to change, and I keep pushing.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:49 PM on February 5 [20 favorites]


It's kind of like the Unification Church and the Washington Times, except this is a much more respected media outlet that was bought out by a church, instead of being founded by it.
posted by Kevin Street at 7:57 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I was wondering what the heck was going on with Newsweek. It's not like it's a publication that I ever had a high level of respect for, but it has gotten really click-baity and shallow(er) recently, and giving me really weird sketchiness vibes.

IBT is sort of similar, I already that the impression that they were largely recycling their news from other sources (although a ton of journalism is derivative these days), but I was wondering what the deal with it was.

"Unless I'm missing something, I don't see anything illegal (perhaps the "internships" reflect a fair labor violation). In that case, is this just not another bunch of secretive zealots with a loud megaphone?"

Just because a thing isn't illegal doesn't make it highly problematic. The secrecy about their organization had led me to end up clicking on Newsweek and IBT stories - I will never do that again; I suspect if most folks knew the nature of the owners they would follow in suit - and those business would therefor fail (as they should).

That being said, an association with a church (whose beliefs can include problematic ones) is not enough for me to avoid the publication - I hold the Christian Science Monitor in high regard.

From the Christian Science Monitor's website:
If the Monitor's news is secular, why is "Christian Science" in its name?
It's about honesty and purpose. We do not hide the fact that the Christian Science church has stood behind this publication for more than 100 years. While some might argue that not having those words would give it wider appeal, to remove them would mislead people about the organization that supports the Monitor. Eddy knew this from the outset. She insisted, against strong opposition from some of her advisers and church officers, that the words “Christian Science” should be in the paper’s name.
posted by el io at 9:06 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Not gonna lie, I have read my share of IBT articles, although Newsweek ceased completely to be relevant to me a long time ago.

I had peripherally heard about the Newsweek troubles, but the drill down rabbit hole this started me on was intriguing and far deeper and branched more than I expected.

(Also, I have ZERO problem with religious organizations being involved in secular organizations, as long as it is

A] Made clear and
B] NOT used as a marketing angle.)
posted by Samizdata at 9:33 PM on February 5


so... a shitty tabloid committed fraud in selling adspace to a government agency dedicated to protecting people against fraud, which has since been co-opted by a different set of fraudsters (the payday lending industry)? it's like an ourobouros of shit.
posted by wibari at 11:30 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Is the BuzzFeed article really citing the Daily Caller as a legitimate source? Dear lord.
posted by Toddles at 2:50 AM on February 6


So you're saying that at least for a time, Newsweek was proxy owned by North Korea?
posted by Oyéah at 8:49 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Oyéah: So you're saying that at least for a time, Newsweek was proxy owned by North Korea?

If I'm reading it correctly - and I might've missed something - it's more like it was proxy owned by a South Korean Christian cult.
posted by clawsoon at 10:03 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Alvy Ampersand: Delightful :D

Take your giant pile of favourites and pat yourself on the back.
posted by MaximumTaco at 1:15 PM on February 6


Celeste Katz, Josh Keefe and Josh Saul , Newsweek: Why Is the Manhattan DA Looking at Newsweek’s Ties to a Christian University?
Note From the Editors: As we were reporting this story, Newsweek Media Group fired Newsweek Editor Bob Roe, Executive Editor Ken Li and Senior Politics Reporter Celeste Katz for doing their jobs. Reporters Josh Keefe and Josh Saul were targeted for firing before an editor persuaded the company to reverse its decision. As we continued working on the story, we were asked to take part in a review process, which, we ultimately learned, 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. 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. This story was written and edited Tuesday, free of interference from company executives.

Signed: Dayan Candappa, Nancy Cooper, Cristina Silva, Ross Schneiderman, Michael Mishak, Josh Keefe, Josh Saul.
We live in interesting times, don't we?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:22 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


« Older Rustic pâté, after Frank   |   Couch to 80k words in 10 minutes of writing per... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments