70% of Unionized Daily Beast Staffers Take Buyouts as Layoffs Loom | Exclusive

The Daily Beast is gutting its senior editorial team after implementing voluntary buyouts last month, with nearly 70% of unionized staffers leaving the outlet, TheWrap has learned.

The senior staffers taking buyouts include media reporter Justin Baragona, political investigations reporter Jose Pagliery, senior national reporter Pilar Melendez, senior reporter Emily Shugerman, and more, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. Twenty-five unionized staffers took the buyouts, equivalent to nearly 70% of the guild, including almost all of the outlet’s senior staffers.

Additionally, non-union editorial staffers are expecting another round of layoffs at the end of the month.

“We’re currently watching the collapse of The Beast,” the individual told TheWrap. “There is no doubt the site won’t be able to recover from this.”

“One of the first lessons of any company: Don’t alienate your core customer and piss them off so much they begin to call for a boycott against your firm,” the individual continued.

The Daily Beast Union announced negotiated voluntary buyouts for staffers at the end of May, following a leadership overhaul. The buyout applications were intended to hit a $1.5 million reduction threshold, with additional cuts expected as a complete rebuild of the outlet is conducted.

“With such a generous severance offer, we anticipated a large number of employees would take the voluntary buyout. We are not at all surprised,” a Daily Beast spokesperson said in a statement to TheWrap. “These numbers allow us to move forward with our plan to secure the financial future of the Beast and rebuild a newsroom that will thrive in the current landscape. It’s always difficult when dedicated employees choose to step away. We thank them and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

Union members now have a seven-day window to accept the buyout or rescind their application, which could impact the number of staffers leaving the outlet.

The Daily Beast Union has 37 members. In addition to the buyouts, the union has negotiated a tentative two-year collective bargaining agreement with management that will benefit all members regardless of whether they are taking a buyout. In the agreement, the union secured retroactive pay increases from January 1 for all members.

In April, former ABC executive Ben Sherwood and former Hearst executive Joanna Coles were granted a minority stake in the news site, with Sherwood serving as CEO and Coles serving as chief content and creative officer.

Since its creation in 2013, The Daily Beast has lost owner Barry Diller tens of millions of dollars.

“We have been in the driver’s seat of this process since Sherwood and Coles arrived at the Beast,” the union writes in a statement. “We have battled with Company lawyers, demanded information in the face of uncertainty, and have won the fight for our colleagues to design their own futures.”

“Managers come and go, but we, the Daily Beast Union, are here to stay,” the statement continued.

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