How the Chips Fell At Human Events

Higher-ups at Human Events warned staff on Tuesday that there would be a big announcement at a 10:30 a.m. meeting the next day. Many employees had a feeling it would be bad news, possibly more layoffs.

Workers who showed up at the office before the meeting went to their desks and computers as usual. Then they gathered in the conference room where V.P. and Group Publisher Joe Guerriero announced that the last payday for nearly all staff members would be this Friday. After the meeting, employees returned to their computers, only to find they couldn’t use them. While the bad news was delivered, the log-in information had been changed.

Employees were told if they needed to retrieve any personal information from what was now their former computers, management would watch them while they did so. Today will be their last day in the office. Human Events will no longer be available in print. Feb. 18th was their last issue.

Guerriero would not comment on the record for this story.

What happened in the meeting…Despite the somber news, no negative energy was felt inside the conference room, a source who was present for the meeting told FBDC.

“There was thanking, some tears,” said the source. “There was no yelling and screaming. There’s no acrimony. People had been given a heads up that something was coming. And everyone has been treated fairly. It’s unfortunate but everyone’s making the best of it.”

We’re told Editor-in-Chief Cathy Taylor, who was hired from the Orange County Register, read a very “heartfelt, thorough” letter to her staff. It included details of specific things people had done for the paper, things “that they should be proud of and that she was grateful for.” She didn’t name anyone in her letter but as she read she would look directly at the person she was referencing so they knew what she was saying was meant for them.

Who’s in and who’s out

As soon as the meeting ended, Guerriero began making the rounds to talk with individual staff members about whether they were being let go. Here’s what we know.

David Harsanyi, online editor for Human Events, was told prior to the meeting that he would not need to attend. He will remain on board to oversee the website.

John Hayward, a blogger for the site, will continue to work with Harsanyi.

Much of the marketing and sales team will also stay. Guerriero is still the V.P. and Group Publisher.

Those who have been let go include: Adam Tragone, managing editor; Karl Selzer, news producer; Audrey Hudson, senior reporter; John Gizzi, White House correspondent; Neil W. McCabe, editor of the Guns & Patriots newsletter; and Linda Jenkins, longtime assistant to Tom Winter who has been with the paper since 1961 (we’re told Winter is “a wreck” and that it was “difficult to see” Jenkins clear out decades worth of documents from her desk; condolences were offered by staffers, to which she simply replied “I’ll be okay”).

A source told us that congressional reporter Hope Hodge was tipped off “months ago” that the paper would be closing. She quickly jumped ship and is now deputy news editor at the Marine Corps Times. Update: Hodge denies that she was ever tipped off. “Nobody tipped me off, I just got another offer,” she said. “Surprised as anyone to see the Human Events shakeup.”

This all comes the same day that RedState, also owned by Eagle Publishing, announced plans to hire original reporters.

What happens to subscribers?

An internal email at Eagle Publishing obtained by FishbowlDC indicated subscriptions to Human Events will be replaced by subscriptions to Forecasts & Strategies, an investment news letter published by Eagle.

As for Human Events management…

Our source said Guerriero has handled the situation “like a champ.”

“He’s met privately with everyone. He’s offered to help in any way he could,” the source said. “He worked like a champion. He worked like a champion to save Human Events. And now that it’s done, he’s being a champion for the people who have to move on.”

Added our source: “When everyone’s being great to you, what are you supposed to say?”

Human Events’ year-long struggle

Vice President and Group Publisher Guerriero announced in a statement this morning that the publication would no longer be available in print. “The realities of the 24-hour news cycle and the brutal economics of a weekly print publication have become insurmountable,” he said. The Feb. 18 edition of the paper is its last issue.

In December, FishbowlDC reported that Human Events was rumored to be for sale by its parent company Eagle Publishing to the conservative nonprofit Young America’s Foundation. Guerriero told us they were “were exploring a strategic partnership with [YAF], but in the end it didn’t work out.”

Guerriero told Politico just last week that Human Events was in talks with other buyers. He said he was “relatively hopeful” someone would save the publication. A deal never materialized.

The decision to close the print edition of the paper comes just less than a year since Human Events shook up its staff with both layoffs and new hires. The print edition and website underwent major redesigns under the new editorial leadership Taylor.