Last week, GOOD Magazine laid off several of its editors, including Nona Willis Aronowitz, who I worked with on my story about Millennials revitalizing Detroit. They were laid off not, as one might guess, because of financial concerns in a time when virtually all news and literary publications are struggling to make do. GOOD was founded by Ben Goldhirsh, the son of Inc Magazine’s founder. After using his father’s money to seed the venture, Goldhirsh created alternative sources of revenue by making GOOD into a multi-faceted media platform, with a partnership with non-profit social networking platform JUMO and a consultancy called the GOOD Corps.
In an e-mail to his staff, Goldhirsh wrote, “We’re profitable through the first half of the year, and this is probably one of the first times in the company’s history where layoffs were made not because of financial pressure, but for strategic reasons.”
So, if it wasn’t about the budget, were the editors laid off, or simply fired? Aronowitz has said that it was “definitely fired for creative reasons.”
I was a GOOD reader for about a year before I began writing for them, and I found it to be an immensely exciting publication. I particularly loved the approach of editors like Aronowitz, whose Hustlin’ column shed light on issues directly relevant to the problems faced by my generation, the Millennials. It is rare to find such a serious, critical voice in this “For Us By Us” genre, and it is also something that we Millennials truly need. The New York Times can write story after story about how Millennials are unemployed and moving home to their parents’ houses, but that doesn’t help us. We need a strong debate about tactics in confronting the recession. And Aronowitz was providing that. I hope that the Hustlin’ column is continued, by someone as thoughtful and diligent as she.
And I hope that the new direction GOOD is headed in (I’ve heard a reference to a vague idea of it becoming a “community platform,” as if we needed something else to click on mindlessly and add “Friends” to) is in keeping with the main strength it has developed over the years: the ability to take mainstream news and funnel it into the diverse viewpoints of the Millennial generation. It frustrates me, and I think sets a bad precedent and example, that GOOD’s founder and CEO is unsympathetic to the important contributions that the editors he fired have been making to that publication. If the one Millennial-run publication can’t even have a good internal support system, then what does that say about how we will take care of each other as a generation and as the future of our country?
For now, the recently-fired GOOD editors have begun making plans for a publication that will, I believe, be a one-off issue of the magazine they always wanted and imagined–which makes me wonder if they long felt held back by creative differences with their CEO. They are all fantastic journalists, and I hope they get great jobs in other publications so they can continue to contribute their voices for those of us who felt that what they were saying truly mattered.