G/O Media Shutters Jezebel, Lays Off Staff and Editorial Director Merrill Brown

The closure comes after G/O Media was unable to find a buyer for the publisher

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The digital publisher G/O Media has shuttered Jezebel, the feminist publisher, amid a broader sweep of layoffs across the G/O Media portfolio that will affect 23 staff in total, according to an internal memo shared by chief executive Jim Spanfeller. 

The cuts come just two days after the company dismissed Merrill Brown, a pedigreed media executive that G/O Media hired as its editorial director in January.

A representative for G/O Media confirmed the cuts.

“The U.S. economy is expanding, but the usual increase in marketing dollars that goes along with these types of numbers have not materialized,” Spanfeller wrote. “While G/O Media is a lean, nimble organization, we are not immune to the economic headwinds rattling our business.”

Last month, Axios reported that G/O Media had begun shopping around Jezebel to gauge the interest of potential buyers. After no such suitors materialized, the publisher was shuttered. The Daily Beast first reported the news of Jezebel shuttering.

The closure represents the latest in a string of changes to the G/O Media portfolio. In April 2022 it acquired Quartz for $8 million, and in March it sold the how-to publisher Lifehacker to Ziff Davis for an undisclosed sum.

“Unfortunately, our business model and the audiences we serve across our network did not align with Jezebel’s,” Spanfeller wrote. “Still, despite every effort, we could not find Jez a new home.”

In addition to the staff of Jezebel, editorial personnel at outlets including Kotaku, Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik and Quartz were affected by the layoffs, according to two people familiar with the situation. 

The dismissal of Brown, whose hiring initially inspired cautious optimism among G/O Media staff, comes less than a year after he joined the company.

Prior to joining G/O Media, Brown had enjoyed a pedigreed career in the journalism industry. He served in an advisory capacity at publishers including The Guardian, ABC News, National Public Radio and New York Magazine, and he was the founder and chief executive of The New Project Inc.

In his departure, Brown joins a growing list of editorial leadership that have left the company in recent months.

Dan Ackerman, who joined Gizmodo as its editor in chief in June, resigned last month, citing a poor cultural fit. Lauren Bassett, the editor in chief of Jezebel, resigned in August, also citing the work conditions. 

Earlier this year, the editors in chief of Gizmodo, The Root and Jalopnik—David Ewalt, Vanessa De Luca and Bob Sorokanich, respectively—also left the company.

As part of the layoffs, G/O Media will also be reorganizing its editorial structure, according to Spanfeller. Going forward, editors in chief will report into an office of editorial oversight in an effort to bring more accountability to them and their teams.

“We want to be nimbler in how we address the many opportunities that we have to serve our daily, weekly and monthly visitors and we want more focus on the KPIs that give us a sense of how we are doing on a site-by-site basis with our core consumers,” Spanfeller wrote. “Some of this involves a flattening of our organization.”

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