News & Politics

Robin Givhan Out at the Daily Beast

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

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
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.