GOOD Mag to be ‘a Reddit for social good’ (updated)

Ex-staffers at work on a new publication

GOOD magazine fired six of its nine-person editorial staff on Friday—and two others accepted buyouts—as part of a move from being a journalism-focused outlet to a community engagement platform.

“They said they wanted to be a Reddit for social good,” says Megan Greenwell, the former managing editor at GOOD.

Staff members from GOOD magazine told CJR they had suspicions that their jobs were in trouble “for months,” as talk from higher-ups increasingly focused on this new platform.

Those suspicions were confirmed, grapevine-style, at the print quarterly’s Thursday night issue launch party (“We work for a small company,” explains Greenwell). The following day, six members of the editorial team were told individually that they were being let go. Two others were offered the choice between a position with the company or a severance package; both decided to leave.

According to a June 4 email to GOOD staff from founder Ben Goldhirsh, obtained by CJR, the firings did not stem from financial problems. From the email:

We’re profitable through the first half of the year, and this is probably one of the first times in the company’s history where layoffs were made not because of financial pressure, but for strategic reasons. And this brings me to the second question on deliberation. Layoffs are a really tough call to make. And frankly, it’s easier to make them when financial pressure is the catalyst. But that wasn’t the case here.

The only editorial employee left now is the education page editor, Liz Dwyer. The education portal on GOOD says that the “page is sponsored by University of Phoenix,” so one could easily infer that’s why she was the one spared, though this could not be confirmed. Interview requests to upper management went unanswered.

Dylan Lathrop was one of the former staffers who took a severance package rather than keep working at GOOD.

“I thought I could be more of a help out in the world than there,” he says. With more than two years at GOOD, he’s the most-senior editorial staffer to leave GOOD in this mass exodus. The idea to turn GOOD into a community portal was “pitched a million ways” by company leadership, he says, using terms like “part aggregator,” “part user-generated content,” “sharing links,” “upping things,” and “gamifying content.”

The group of ex-staffers are now at work putting together a magazine tentatively titled Tomorrow, which they will raise money for on Kickstarter. Greenwell says they brainstormed about the new magazine in her living room last night.

“We asked ourselves: ‘If we had no restrictions, what would we do?’” More details about Tomorrow are supposed to be announced later today. “Essentially, it will be a single issue of our dream magazine,” says Greenwell. “Which doesn’t mean we’re not looking for jobs. We definitely are.”

Update: See the Tomorrow announcement here.

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Alysia Santo is a former assistant editor at CJR. Tags: , , , ,