First Look Media is shutting down Racket and letting its staff go

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First Look Media announced today that Racket, the political satire magazine originally headed by Matt Taibbi, is shutting down.

Since Matt Taibbi’s departure, we’ve been working with the team he hired to consider various options for launching a project without him. After multiple explorations, we’ve decided not to pursue the project. Unfortunately, this means that the team Matt hired will be let go.

The announcement follows weeks of seeming instability at the company. New York Magazine’s Andrew Rice broke the news last month that Taibbi, who had been brought on to run the magazine, would be leaving the project. The team at First Look’s The Intercept followed up with a detailed explanation of the management and culture clashes that led up to his departure. Shortly thereafter, Glenn Greenwald announced that editor-in-chief John Cook was leaving The Intercept and returning to Gawker Media.

In the wake of Taibbi’s departure, the remaining staff of Racket, presumably under the leadership of Racket executive editor Alex Pareene launched a new project that fit in well with what was to have been the magazine’s satirical tone and penchant for pranks. RacketTeen, a somewhat inscrutable Tumblr account, poked fun at everything from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to media insiders to parents.

For sale: website. Never launched

— Racket Teen (@RacketTeen) November 25, 2014

The announcement, which leaves the entire staff of Racket without jobs, was met with consternation and general upset by those in the media who had hoped RacketTeen was the sign of more cutting-edge commentary to come. Some also expressed concerns for how the staff had been treated by First Look.

I miss Racket Teen

— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) November 25, 2014

I want Pierre Omidyar to pay reparations for all the @mtaibbi @pareene @elspethreeve @edithzimmerman stories we didn’t get to read in 2014.

— daveweigel (@daveweigel) November 25, 2014

Laid-off Racket staff don’t even get names. http://t.co/xFFfDzO2L2

— Scott Klein (@kleinmatic) November 25, 2014

What’s next for the staff of Racket, and for First Look, remains to be seen.

Could the @Awl network fold in @RacketTeen? I don’t even care if you do Racket

— Tim Carmody (@tcarmody) November 25, 2014

Fusion is just pulling up the party bus to the First Look offices now

— Bill Wasik (@billwasik) November 25, 2014

Maybe on Thanksgiving Pierre will pardon one member of @RacketTeen

— Natasha VC (@natashavc) November 25, 2014

I reached out to Racket staff members for comment, but so far haven’t heard anything back.

thank you everyone who is gchatting me rn but the entire @RacketTeen staff has to go get drunk now

— Elle Reeve (@elspethreeve) November 25, 2014

Amid the wry jokes, though, it’s important to remember that Pierre Omidyar, First Look’s founder, promised $250 million to the project last year. The organization is often cited on the list of new media projects that are cause for optimism about the state of the industry. With plenty of funds and talent on hand, there’s considerable confusion over what is causing First Look to falter.

The people at the Racket are some of the most talented people in media. To not figure out how to make it work is totally baffling.

— Philip Bump (@pbump) November 25, 2014

Via: News

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