Slate lays off venerable media critic Jack Shafer

Dylan Stableford

On a day that already saw pioneering media blogger Jim Romenesko announce his "semi-retirement," Slate's venerable press critic, Jack Shafer, was laid off, Adweek reports.

Shafer, Slate's editor-at-large, was one of several layoffs made today by the Washington Post Company-owned online magazine.

"This was a decision that made sense both financially and editorially," Slate editor David Plotz told Adweek. "It was a painful decision for us. But it was a decision that we think—coupled with some new editorial and technological investments that we're going to make—will pay off in the long run."

Earlier Wednesday, Romenesko announced a cutback from his duties at the Poynter Institute to focus on other projects, including an eponymous website slated to launch in 2012.

"All hail Romenesko," Shafer wrote on Twitter, hours before Slate confirmed its round of layoffs.

"The industry we're in changes very quickly," Plotz added.

Well, yes, and no.

Romenesko joined Poynter in 1999. And Shafer's has been writing for Slate since 1996. (His first piece, according to Slate's archive, was "Smack Happy," a critique of the media's insistence that heroin was back.

"The news hook was the July 12 death of Smashing Pumpkins side man Jonathan Melvoin, 34, while shooting scag in a Park Avenue hotel," Shafer wrote then. "The Washington Post Page One obit on Melvoin claimed--without substantiation--'a resurgence in heroin use in the '90s," while the New York Times asserted that the "heroin vogue has been building since at least 1993 and shows no signs of ebbing.' Trainspotting, the new movie about young Scottish junkies, provided another useful occasion for noting this alleged trend."