Susanna Schrobsdorff, former editorial director of Newsweek Digital, recently spoke to The Transom about a group of fellow newsweek.com alumnis’ booze cruise around Manhattan this Saturday (as first reported in the Eight-Day Week). “The last round of people in the buyout group just left,” Ms. Schrobsdorff, who departed the company in December 2010, said when asked what there was to celebrate, “and there are a few people that are just going to stay.”
While this cruise commemorates the final decision of a small website staff scattered to the four winds by Tina Brown’s acquisition of the magazine, the group has been meeting frequently. “There’s been at least two people a month [departing Newsweek] since last summer. We’ve been drinking heavily,” because of all the going-away parties, that is!
The cruise was not, in its inception, intended to commemorate the recently announced permanent shuttering of newsweek.com (content will live on thedailybeast.com). “It’s ironic that within days of deciding the date for our cruise, it was the official cruise,” said Ms. Schrobsdorff. “We’re gonna scatter ashes. But mostly people are busy trying to get P.D.F.’s of their old articles.”
Ms. Schrobsdorff credits, in part, the long-term turmoil and frequent turnover of management at newsweek.com for its forging cruise-ready friendships. “The core group just plugged along continuing to do the work … We had an incredible bond. The chaos swirled around.” Kathy Jones, former managing editor of multimedia for the site (having left in April), agreed, noting that the dominance of the Daily Beast within the combined company was a particular challenge. “It was a little puzzling to a lot of folks what the thinking was behind it, because if you have a magazine with a strong name and don’t have a strong URL, it’s hard for it to survive.”
Certainly a group of former web contributors displaced or reassigned have much about which to be bitter: in a group email thread about the cruise obtained by The Observer, Ms. Jones wrote, “think of it as a boozy voyage to the new world as we flee our brit oppressors.” But the gossip tossed about on board may confuse other passengers. Says Ms. Schrobsdorff: “It’s one of those dopey things, you pay money and you go on and they have a band and a bar. I don’t think we have the whole thing to ourselves!”
[Correction: This item originally and erroneously stated that Ms. Schrobsdorff organized the cruise; the organizer was Ms. Jones.]
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