Newsweek in turmoil as top editorial staff sacked

The building containing IBT Media, parent company of Newsweek Media Group, in New York. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The news media group Newsweek was in turmoil this week amid the firing of its top editorial staff, reportedly for investigating the finances of their own company.

Veteran reporter Matthew Cooper announced his resignation late Monday, saying the firing of top Newsweek editors was a "disgrace" and a sign of "reckless leadership" at the New York media group with the brand of the onetime leading news magazine.

Another prominent journalist, David Sirota, quit on Tuesday (Feb 6), announcing the move on Twitter.

"I am resigning from IBT/Newsweek. I am proud of my nearly 4 years there, producing serious award-winning investigative journalism under extremely difficult circumstances," he wrote.

Earlier this week, the New York Post and other media outlets reported that editor-in-chief Bob Roe, executive editor Ken Li and investigative reporter Celeste Katz were fired, as they were working on a story on financial ties of the news site's parent company to a fundamentalist Christian college.

Queried by AFP, Newsweek Media Group declined to comment.

Katz said on Twitter Monday that she was "looking for a job" as she thanked "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".

Earlier this month, the Post reported that federal agents had raided the Newsweek newsroom as part of a probe into the finances of its parent company and its ties to South Korean evangelical pastor David Jang.

Cooper said he was resigning but questioned whether that was moot "since the staff has been sent home and the magazine, for all we know, doesn't exist".

He added, "Leaving aside the police raid and the harassment scandal, 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."

Newsweek magazine launched in 1933 and built a global circulation of some 3.3 million by the 1990s.

After changing hands several times, the title was bought in 2013 by privately held IBT Media, which then adopted the name Newsweek Media Group.

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