Newsweek Points Fingers at Its Parent Company in Damning Editors’ Note
"This is the story Newsweek editors and a reporter were fired over."
Updated Wednesday, 2/21/18 at 1:33 am.
Late Tuesday evening, a month after the magazine’s Lower Manhattan office was raided by state investigators, Newsweek published an 1,800-word report detailing the Manhattan District Attorney’s year-long probe into its parent company’s ties to controversial evangelical pastor David Jang and Olivet University, the California-based biblical college he founded in 2000.
The triple-bylined story was preceded by a lengthy editors’ note accusing Newsweek Media Group of “egregious breaches of confidentiality and journalism ethics,” and firing Newsweek editor Bob Roe, executive editor Ken Li and senior politics reporter Celeste Katz—who contributed to the story—”for doing their jobs.”
“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,” the note reads. “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.”
Newsweek Media Group, founded in 2006 as the parent company of news site International Business Times and formerly known as IBT Media, has been the subject of years of speculation over its owners’ broad sense of secrecy around their web of connections to Jang and Olivet ever since they purchased Newsweek in 2013.
The Daily Beast reported two weeks ago that company co-founder Johnathan Davis told Newsweek editors their work had damaged the company’s business prospects following a Buzzfeed article detailing allegations that the company had engaged in ad fraud. (Amid all of this, NMG chief content officer Dayan Candappa took a leave of absence last month over sexual harassment complaint from his time at Reuters. Davis, who himself had not been active at the company for some time, had returned to fill in until Candappa was reinstated earlier this month.)
Update: Early Wednesday morning, International Business Times followed Newsweek‘s report by publishing a staff-bylined article excerpting a three-hour interview by “Newsweek Media Group editors” with Davis and his wife, Olivet University president Tracy Davis, in which the latter Davis denied any connection between Olivet and the D.A. investigation and both Davises seemed to downplay Jang’s relationship with the company.