The Washington Examiner fired at least two reporters on Friday, signaling a growing rightward shift at the conservative website and its companion magazine.
According to multiple current and former employees who spoke with INSIDER on the condition of anonymity, the Examiner parted ways with two of its non-partisan straight-news reporters, while keeping their commentary staff and announcing new hires in other roles.
The Examiner's firings, which came in the same two-week span as rounds of layoffs hammered the media industry, were "in no way" due to financial strain, according to one former employee. They were meant to take the website in a more conservative and Trump-friendly direction, according to sources.
A current staffer lamented to INSIDER that the publication is unrecognizable from what it used to be, noting a more right-leaning tone.
In an email to staff Thursday evening, less than 24 hours before reporters were let go, Examiner Editorial Director Hugo Gordon wrote to announce several hires and pledged more in the future.
"Having an extra editor will mean more attention can be given to commissioning and to copy, and it may mean some reporters will be supervised by a different editor than now," Gordon wrote. "These details will be worked out in coming weeks."
"I will have more hires to announce shortly, as the Washington Examiner consolidates its position as the country's biggest and most influential conservative news organization dedicated to federal politics," Gordon concluded.
A spokesman for the Examiner told INSIDER in an email the departures "weren't layoffs."
"Layoffs are staff reductions. We're increasing our staff," the spokesperson said. "They were let go for other reasons and we don't discuss individual personnel decisions."
The firings come after an exodus of editorial employees from the Examiner. Several reporters have also departed in recent weeks.
Plenty of websites are laying off reporters in 2019, BuzzFeed, Vice, HuffPost, McClatchy and Gannett all laid off multiple positions, over 2,100 total in fact, it's a bloodbath. But none of those sites are firing journalists and then hiring more opinion writers.
It's an ugly time to be in the reporting business, and there's really nobody to blame but the reporting business.