Robin Givhan Out at the Daily Beast

Plus: the winners and losers in media layoffs this week.

By: Harry Jaffe

Robin Givhan, the only fashion critic to win the Pulitzer Prize, is a casualty of Tina Brown’s failure to make a go of Newsweek/Daily Beast.

Brown called Givhan Thursday to give her the news. She will be at the Beast until December 31.

“I’m shell-shocked,” Givhan tells The Washingtonian. “It is what it is. Everybody knew there would be downsizing.”

Givhan “could very well be considered the best fashion journalist in the world,” the Huffington Post wrote in July. She’s working on a book on a 1973 show that changed fashion and the relationship between French and US designers. Brown could not have picked a worse time, for her, to let Givhan go. The inaugural season is the height of fashion coverage in the capital.

After a brutal week for news organizations from Washington, DC, to New York and London, it’s time to pick winners and losers.

• Newsweek/Daily Beast on Thursday started notifying reporters and editors who would no longer be needed. Brown, founder and editor, announced in October she would shutter Newsweek, the weekly news magazine once part of the Washington Post’s media empire. Now up to 65 of the 270 staff will be axed, as the news operation goes all digital.

The loser here is Tina Brown, whose standing in the publishing world will suffer—in losing Givhan and losing to Arianna Huffington. While the Daily Beast is suffering, shrinking, and considering a paywall to charge readers, the Huffington Post appears to be thriving—or at least not shedding journalists.

• This week National Journal announced it would reorganize into two divisions: one will comprise the membership side, where paying customers get a menu that includes National Journal, the magazine, the Daily, and Hotline; the free digital publication will abandon the goal of competing with Politico for breaking news nuggets. Instead, the refashioned website will publish longer pieces and analysis that it hopes will appeal to readers beyond the Beltway.

In the process, it’s eliminating ten positions in the newsroom. Sources say most will be from the tech side. Top reporters are bailing, as well. Economics reporter Jim Tankersky is leaving for the Washington Post.

Winner: Politico. National Journal says its membership side is prospering, but publisher David Bradley’s bet on beating Politico to readers and advertisers didn’t pay off.

The inside winner is Charlie Green. The ultimate survivor, Green will lead the paid membership side, which gives him control over the magazine and the heart of the National Journal operation.

• The New York Times announced it was offering buyouts to 30 non-union employees and managers, but it would accept volunteers from the newsroom, too. This doesn’t come close to taking a scalpel to the newsroom, but down on 15th Street in DC, there’s no mention of cuts of any kind.

The Grinch will not be stalking the Washington Post newsroom this holiday season. Peace will reign. No layoffs or buyouts loom. My sources say the Post has no “imminent” plans to cut its staff.

Perhaps the Post is hoping it can staunch its revenue losses now that Post Company chairman Donald Graham has indicated he will consider asking readers to pay for some digital content. Perhaps the Post didn’t want to further demoralize the staff before incoming editor Martin Baron takes the helm in January. Perhaps five buyouts over the past decade have cut the reporters and editors to the bone.

If the Post is in the hiring mood, it might able to benefit from Tina Brown’s troubles. Baron could make a play for Givhan, who came from the Post. Who knows: Daily Beast media writer Howard Kurtz, who made his name at the Post, might be in play, too.