Slate lays off press critic Shafer, others

Adweek.com | American Journalism Review
“We have made some editorial changes, including a small reduction in our full time staff and our contractors,” says Slate editor David Plotz. “Press Box” columnist Jack Shafer confirms in an email to Adweek’s Dylan Byers that he was laid off, but says he’ll continue as a contributor. Plotz tells Byers:

The industry we’re in changes very quickly. This was a decision that made sense both financially and editorially. It was a painful decision for us. But it was a decision that we think—coupled with some new editorial and technological investments that we’re going to make—will pay off in the long run.

In a just-posted American Journalism Review profile of Shafer, Erik Wemple calls the Slate veteran “utterly uncorrupted by friendship, money, power, anything. He is ruthless with people he doesn’t know, but what is impressive is how ruthless he can be with the people he knows.”

Times executive editor Bill Keller is a fan:

I admire Shafer for taking his subject seriously enough to do his homework and think things through. He’s working in a field that sometimes seems to have been overrun by the snarkoleptics, who blow raspberries for a living. He’s fun to read, but there’s usually an actual idea in his pieces, and some reporting, and some sense of history.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504633504 Dan Mitchell

    Plotz has written lots of good stuff, though not so much in recent years because he’s an editor. I mean, maybe not podunk-dull-as-mush-suburban-community-news good, but good. Of course if you judge writers by irrelevant criteria, such as perception of his political agenda, or if, for the same reason, you don’t read anything at all by that writer before reaching conclusions about him, you might have a different opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Never agreed with Shafer all the time, but he was one of the few bylines I actively looked for (as well as one of the few on Slate I could actually name). Most media reporters, like most ombudsmen, just skim the surface and tell me what I already know. Shafer dug in and laid some opinions on the line. Hard to swallow this as a “small reduction.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504633504 Dan Mitchell

    As if CNN would even consider doing such a thing. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754678963 David Edelstein

    Jack is the fearless, fearsome, and 75% of the time dead-on. I put that average against anyone else’s.

  • Anonymous

    i say give Jack the “Reliable Sources” gig at CNN.  Howie Kurtz isn’t sure as hell isn’t doing anything (good) with it.  i finally quit DVRing it a few weeks ago.  addition by subtraction.

    [pretentious PBS-wannabe-ish piano intro fade-out...]
    HOWIE:  “…and finally today, an extended interview with Gloria Alred”.

    ugh.  seriously Jack, you’d kick this show in the ass.

  • Anonymous

    Shafer is the best.  Hawk-eyed and cant-free.

    He would have disarticulated “new editorial and technological investment” with gusto and in a nano-second.

    Dan Buck

  • http://profiles.google.com/sandiegoscribe Bradley Fikes

    So Slate lays off one of its most valuable writers  — I’m a longtime Shafer fan — and editor David Plotz blathers about “new editorial and technological investment.” I don’t recall ever reading anything worthwhile by Plotz, so why not let him go instead?