Employees at The Messenger learned about site’s shutdown from outside reports

Employees at startup media outlet The Messenger learned about the organization’s shutdown from outside reports, according to several social media posts.

“I just got laid off. One would expect to learn this news from their employer but instead, @TheMessenger employees learned of it via @nytimes and @semafor — there is no severance. Healthcare will cease,” investigative reporter James LaPorta wrote on X, adding that he had to go clean out his desk.

The New York Times and Semafor broke the news of The Messenger’s shutdown on Wednesday afternoon. The outlet only began publishing on May 15, 2023.

“Finding out I’m out of a job through the New York Times is a new one, I gotta say,” science reporter Adam Kovac wrote. “Appreciate the gracious and dignified way upper management has handled making the announcement. JK, they haven’t said a word to us.”

The Messenger management eventually sent an email to employees notifying them of the shutdown. However, some workers said they couldn’t even access it because they had been cut off from internal communications.

“All I know is that if I were to launch a media startup, I’d be sure to rent an entire floor of a downtown Manhattan skyscraper that was 9/10ths empty all day … and then fail to tell my employees they were laid off until they read about it in the New York Times,” film critic Jordan Hoffman wrote.

The Times reported that The Messenger burned through its $50 million initial funding round and had only $1.8 million cash on hand at the end of 2023. Site founder Jimmy Finkelstein had pitched the site as a nonpartisan news source, and The Messenger hired talented journalists from across the industry.

Finkelstein made a last-ditch effort to raise more money earlier this month, according to the Times. The outlet also tried to save money by cutting some staff before Wednesday’s complete shutdown.

“Learning that I’m losing my job via Twitter was not on my 2024 bingo card,” national reporter Brinley Hineman wrote.