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He’s Baaaack! New Daily Beast Boss Joanna Coles Scrambles to Recruit Ex-CNN Host Brian Stelter As Site Undergoes Massive Layoffs

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Source: MEGA

Joanna Coles, the new boss at The Daily Beast, is on a mission to recruit big names like former CNN host Brian Stelter while reportedly planning to cut more than a third of the staff.

May 29 2024, Published 2:00 p.m. ET

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Joanna Coles, the new boss at The Daily Beast, is on a mission to recruit big names like former CNN host Brian Stelter while reportedly planning to cut more than a third of the staff, has learned.

The 61-year-old media veteran from the United Kingdom was brought on last month as chief creative and content officer by businessman Barry Diller and CEO Ben Sherwood, who hoped she could revamp the struggling New York-based news site.

Coles has held leading roles at major publications, serving as editor-in-chief of Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan, and most recently heading Hearst Magazines as CCO. She and Sherwood were hired by The Beast in exchange for equity in Diller’s company, IAC, which controls the publication.

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joanna coles
Source: MEGA

Coles was hired as chief creative and content officer of The Daily Beast in April.

The New York Post spoke with sources close to the situation who said Coles had reached out to Stelter, ex-anchor of CNN's Reliable Sources, to lead The Beast’s media coverage. Stelter, now a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, reportedly declined to comment.

The report came as the Beast confirmed this week that voluntary buyouts were offered to all 37 unionized staffers in an effort to save $1.5 million, per The New York Times.

An insider told the Post that around 30% of staff were expected accept the offer before it expires in June, as others close to the situation claimed that since taking the helm, Coles's aggressive management style has sparked fears of replacement by new talent.

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Source: MEGA

Sources told the New York Post that Coles had reached out to Stelter to lead the Beast's media coverage.

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The outlet reported that Coles has "intimidated staffers with pointed questions about who they are and how they want to cover their beats," leaving employees "walking a tightrope in trying to please Coles," and inspiring several to leave the publication.

“You either take the buyout or risk being laid off, as Coles wants to create a newsroom in her own image,” a source said, predicting that layoffs could exceed the 30% mark.

The buyout package offers employees with two to four years of tenure about three to four months of pay, the insider explained.

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joanna coles
Source: MEGA

Staff have reportedly been "walking a tightrope in trying to please Coles."

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“The voluntary buyouts are part of a larger plan to reduce spending, grow revenue and put The Beast into a healthy and sustainable financial position,” a Beast spokesperson said.

“Everyone in digital media is facing tough choices,” the spox said.

“These buyouts are especially hard because we know some talented and valued colleagues will decide to leave next month. Throughout this process, we remain fully committed to The Beast’s core mission — great independent journalism that makes a difference.”

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In addition to the projected $1.5 million savings from the union cuts, Coles and Sherwood hope to cut back on “millions” in spending by downsizing their Manhattan office space, another source shared.

Some non-union staffers are also reportedly facing potential job losses, like editor-in-chief Tracy Connor, with even more cuts anticipated on the business side.

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Coles has remained "rather jovial and happy," while others "feel as if the world is ending as they face the prospect of unemployment," a source said, adding that Connor and executive editor Katie Baker have kept low profiles in the office. Meanwhile, a dip in morale has set in among staff along with some confusion about operations.

“No one has any idea who they should report to … Are Katie and Tracy still alive?” the source said.

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So far, the changes have led to DC bureau chief Matt Fuller's departure, while Coles has hired The Guardian's Martin Pengelly to recruit additional staff, including reporter Hugo Lowell. She is also reportedly keen on adding Hollywood writers to enhance the site’s humor and culture sections.

Jill Twiss, formerly of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Nell Scovell, creator of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, are among the new recruits, writing listicles and opinion pieces.



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