NowPublic lays off staff

Be sure to read updates on this story below.

UBC Professor Alfred Hermida reported this morning that NowPublic has laid off 8 out of its 11-person team and likely will be shutting down. Hermida leads the integrated journalism programme at the graduate School of Journalism at UBC, so unless this is lesson on how to plant a rumor we should assume it has been confirmed.

Some bad news from the participatory journalism start-up NowPublic, based in Vancouver.

I’ve heard that the site had laid off most of its staff – 8 out of its team of 11 – and could likely be shutting down.

NowPublic was bought by last September. At the time, the plan was for and NowPublic to operate independently, retaining their unique offerings and brands.

This is all I know for now, and I am at the International Journalism Symposium at UT Austin.

While the layoffs have been confirmed it looks lke Hermida may have jumped the gun on NowPublic closing its doors. NowPublic co-founder Michael Tippett tweeted the following shortly after Hermida’s post:

While Hermida is on the road today, he continues to update his original blog post as the story develops and his most recent update includes an email quote from NowPublic’s Former VP Publishing, Content & Partner Acquisitions Joy Gugeler:

Needless to say I am hugely disappointed that NowPublic’s potential and expansion will not be pursued in the manner its recruited staff had envisioned 6 months ago following the purchase. Improvements to editorial quality, design, layout, professionalism and writer compensation had been developed with talented colleagues and contributors with the full expectation that they would be realized. I wish the remaining skeleton staff and members the best as they reconcile with the new landscape and trust that talent will go where entrepreneurship and innovation can fulfill their promise.

Seven month’s ago NowPublic was sold to local news network, which is controlled by Philip Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group for $25 Million.

NowPublic was started in 2005 and has raised about $12 Million from investors such as Rho Ventures, Brightspark and the Working Opportunity Fund.

UPDATE: Co-founder Leonard Brody has confirmed on Twitter that NowPublic is NOT closing and he’s not happy with Hermida either:

Update #2Michael Tippett has blogged this afternoon, reiterating that NowPublic is NOT closing. Here’s a snippet:

As anyone who’s been through an acquisition knows there are often redundancies within the merged company. In the process of integrating our operations with, we have unfortunately had to eliminate some staff positions, which impacted respected colleagues from our Vancouver-based office.

As a founder of the company this is always hard, and we had to say good bye to some fantastic employees and old friends.

As difficult as this is personally for everyone involved, I wanted to clarify a couple of misconceptions that have been bouncing around the twitterverse and in the media. First and foremost, NowPublic is not closing.