Journos Outraged as Slate Axes Jack Shafer

Co-founder is one of 4 staffers let go

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 25, 2011 1:16 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Slate co-founder Jack Shafer, who has been with the online magazine since before its official launch in 1996, is being laid off, it was announced yesterday. The media critic is one of four staff members being let go; Timothy Noah, June Thomas, and Juliet Lapidos are the others, reports the Washington Post. (The Washington Post Co. bought Slate in 2004 from Microsoft.) Some reactions:

  • "If you weren't reading [Jack, Tim, June, and Juliet's] stuff, you're in luck—it'll be online 'til the Internet dies," writes Slate colleague David Weigel. "If you write, you should study it, because these people think and write circles around most everyone in the job-formerly-known-as-the-Life-of-Kings."

  • The move is "preposterous, sure, when considering that Shafer is among the country’s leading writers on media, a favorite of anyone who values original, uncorrupted thinking on how journalists and news outlets operate," writes Erik Wemple in the Washington Post.
  • Wemple also notes that the news "prompted a quick and dumbfounded reaction on journo-infested Twitter." Among those: Jonah Goldberg, who wondered, "Slate laid off Jack Shafer? Good lord, who did they keep?"
Click to read Shafer's candid post-mortem interview with AdWeek, in which he declares, "I was thinking of becoming an alcoholic."

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It doesn’t necessarily mean a huge, unsolvable crisis. It just means we have to economize. Many publications have to right-size themselves in this current economic environment. - Jack Shafer on media layoffs

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