Newsweek Daily Beast executive editor Edward Felsenthal became the third high-level hire to leave the company in the span of a few hours, a grim sign that chaos still rules at the magazine-web hybrid. Feslenthal joined managing editor Tom Weber in resigning after the company fired publisher Ray Chelstowski first thing Monday morning, effective immediately. But since he was one of The Daily Beast's first hires and Tina Brown's long-time right hand at the site, Felsenthal is without a doubt, the biggest shoe to fall at the company and has not yet announced his next job. Though she was in a board meeting when The New York Times's Jeremy W. Peters broke the news of Felsenthal's departure, Tina Brown announced on Monday afternoon that new hire Justine Rosenthal, a hire from The National Interest who previously was with the Council on Foreign Relations, will take over as Newsweek's executive editor and Newsweek's former editorial director Mark Miller will return as director of editorial operations. Jane Spencer has been promoted to executive editor of The Daily Beast.
A former deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal, Felsenthal joined The Daily Beast in March 2008, well before the site launched and helmed the editorial team from the start. A year after starting his new job Felsenthal called the job "exhausting" while speaking on a panel but maintained some optimism for the new site's role in helping the industry evolve. "A couple of years from now, the newspaper business will look nothing like it looks now," Felsenthal said. "I think newspapers will survive, and ultimately survive under new models." Last November — nearly a year ago to the day — The Daily Beast had merged with Newsweek in an deal that was supposed to make both publications profitable. The quest for profitability has not gone well. At the end of October, an Adweek report pegged the 2010 losses at $30 million and said the company faced a continued struggle to fire up ad sales as web traffic declined. Newsweek also announced on Monday that they would not be continuing its long-running political campaign series that had previously been overseen by Evan Thomas for the 2012 presidential race.
The reaction from the Newsweek Daily Beast staff has so far been mixed. In the moments after news broke of Felsenthal's departure, reporter David A. Graham joked on Twitter, "Pretty quiet day at the office today." Editor of Newsweek International Tunku Varadarajan tweeted, "Contrary to some overheated punditry (and tweeting), Newsweek is NOT in the doldrums. It's still the best American weekly newsmag. Period." Editor-in-chief Tina Brown, however, stayed quiet.