In five days, GOOD went from being a media darling to the media's latest jerk when the company laid off most of its editorial staff. Just what happened to the do-gooder publication is still pretty murky.
First off, if you aren't familiar with GOOD, it's the brainchild of Ben Goldhirsh, the son of entrepreneur and Inc. magazine founder Bernie Goldhirsh. The magazine and website is sort of an idealist daydream. Instead of peppering us with stories about how to be sexier, manlier, or richer, GOOD gives us stories on, say, what happens when people get deported. "GOOD loves defining the Good for the less-enlightened," writes contributor Spencer Ackermann, perhaps putting the magazine's "do the right thing" mission best.
But we can't even say who is in charge of GOOD right now. Last fall, Facebook's magazine wonderboy Chris Hughes merged his social network Jumo with GOOD to create a "content and social engagement platform. We don't know what sort of stake Hughes received in exchange or whether he was involved in the recent decisions. But Hughes has another magazine project right now: revitalizing The New Republic and the hiring of superstar writers and editors. While he's been pumping money and effort into the DC-based TNR, GOOD has been decimating its Los Angeles editorial staff. (Three editors weren't laid off.) And if the firings weren't for financial reasons (approaching people for TNR gigs like Dexter Filkins, Rober Draper, and Mark Leibovich isn't cheap), which we're guessing they weren't, does this mean the end of GOOD's in-house publishing and more "content and social engagement" from the community?
Here's what we do know:
Whoever Is Running GOOD Has Terrible Timing
Apparently when GOOD fired executive editor Ann Friedman, managing editor Megan Greenwell, senior editor Cord Jefferson, lifestyle editor Amanda Hess, business editor Tim Fernholz and associate editor Nona Willis Aronowitz--whew, that's a lot of editorial heads--it was done the day after the magazine celebrated a launch party for its 27th Issue last Thursday. "GOOD co-founder Casey Caplowe delivered the bad news to at least three staffers", reports Poynter's Andrew Beaujon. The only people left standing are GOOD's education editor, its assistant editor, and its senior editorial designer.
Adding to the ham-fisted timing of the firings, GOOD published a post today thanking its 200,000 fans. "As of today we have more than 200,000 fans on Facebook, which means champagne and a thank-you video from the GOOD staff," reads the post. "Consider this our thanks to all our Facebook friends for supporting us." And that reads like a normal GOOD post, except for the fact that the "thank you" video they attached features a bevy of its fired editors (tacky):
No One (In Charge) Is Talking About the Firings
We've reached out to the higher-ups at GOOD as well as its founder Ben Goldhirsh and so far no one seems to be talking about the layoffs. Poynter seems to be running into the same wall of silence with GOOD's founders. Staffers do seem to be talking on Twitter, where laid off staffers like Jefferson and Greenwell did indulge us on their drinking plans (and some with their non-drinking plans).
So What About the Magazine?
Well, that seems the most unclear. We're not quite sure how GOOD is going to smack together its next issue with only three editors. But perhaps we're thinking too short-term and the real question should be, will GOOD publish a magazine or even staff-generated digital content? "GOOD appears to be exploring a community-based publishing system with a public beta site described as 'a platform for 21st century citizenship' that includes aggregation (GOOD Finder) and a tool for mobilizing locally (GOOD Maker)," writes Poynter's Beaujon, and one of our sources says that they believe the firings line up with pursuing that beta site. As other have noted, GOOD's editors will no doubt make other publications better, and the firings (and timing) have made writers very angry but we'd be a bit disappointed GOOD magazine isn't even around to feel the fallout.