A meeting that took place at the beleaguered Newsweek Media Group (NMG) this week is leaving many of its staffers underwhelmed and confused about the direction the company is taking.
During a 90-minute staff meeting on Tuesday, Chief Content Officer Jonathan Davis asked staffers to hold hands and pray together in order to give thanks to a Christian church that helps NMG in financially questionable ways, according to sources who were attending. One individual who was at the meeting called the entire ordeal “batsh*t crazy.”
Davis reportedly asked staffers to thank Olivet University for their help in providing capital to the organization in its early days, the New York Post reports. The university is headed by a church led by the controversial Rev. David Jang, who has been involved in making several influential decisions at the magazine.
Employees of Jang’s ministry and college have been the subject of inquiry for some time. Workers are often overworked and underpaid, working 10- to 12-hour days in some instances and earning as little as $125 per week for full-time work.
The strange meeting that took place on Tuesday and it's controversial benefactor aren't the only problems facing Newsweek. Last month, investigators seized 18 computer servers. NMG is allegedly being investigated for engaging in advertiser fraud, buying traffic, and inflating viewership numbers to assuage clients who buy ad space on its website.
Newsweek is also dealing with charges of sexual harassment and abuse. Dayan Candappa, who served in the role currently held by Davis, took a leave of absence late January after it was discovered that he had engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior in his previous work with Reuters.
Whether it’s allegations of sexual misconduct, questionable financial dealings, or quasi-religious staff meetings, it’s clear that Newsweek is going through a transitional period that isn’t comforting to many. NMG needs to look closely at severing some ties that may be dragging them down and put its focus back on news reporting in the months ahead.