Mic relaunches with new content and writers after laying off entire staff weeks earlier
- Digital publisher Mic, which laid of nearly its entire staff before being sold to Bustle Digital Group in late November, began publishing new content from new writers on January 11.
- The writers appear to be working on a freelance basis, legitimizing fears of Mic's union.
- On Wednesday, news broke that Bustle Digital Group's other newly acquired property, Gawker, has made its first editorial hires.
Mic, a millennial-aimed publication the laid off nearly its entire editorial staff on November 29, 2018, before being sold to Bustle Digital Group for $5 million, has quietly appeared to relaunch with fresh content produced by new writers.
Through December, the site published a handful of branded content articles along with short pieces promoting episodes of the documentary video series Mic Dispatch. Beginning January 11, though, Mic began publishing new original content from two writers, Lauren Rearick and Emma Sarran Webster, who have fresh author pages on the site. Mic did not issue an announcement about the move but simply published the pieces on its Facebook and Twitter account.Most of the pieces provide service journalism on topics like applying for a new credit card or using an online-only bank and notably stray from Mic's previous social-justice brand.
It's unclear if Webster or Rearick are full-time writers. On Twitter, Rearick identifies as "another freelance writer on the internet you can hire." Webster also identifies as a "freelance writer and editor" on LinkedIn. Neither noted their work for Mic or immediately responded to requests for comment.
For Mic's union, which accused Bustle Digital Group of union busting following Mic's mass layoff, the news wasn't surprising. A Mic Union representative told The Wrap, "The 'relaunching' of Mic.com by Bustle Digital Group without the involvement of the very people Mic co-founders Chris Altchek and Jake Horowitz unceremoniously laid off, is an appalling but not surprising move given the anti-worker reputation of BDG CEO Bryan Goldberg."
After the layoffs, Mic employees told Business Insider that they believed that the layoffs were specifically geared towards busting the staff's recent union, and that the brand would eventually be relaunched. One employee said, "It seems like it's a pretty blatant way to keep the Mic brand while getting rid of the unionized members and also the members that hold the values that Mic has built their brand on."
Shirley Lung, an expert in labor law at the City University of New York, described how the layoffs could pave the way for getting rid of consideration of Mic's union, saying "If Bustle decided that it would hire new employees and they're going to structure their workforce so that less than a majority is comprised of former employees, then they would have effectively gotten rid of the union."Bustle Digital Group, which has specialized in producing highly searchable content for as little as $100 per day, has been known for similar actions. When Bustle bought Elite Daily it laid off half of the company's staff, eventually rehiring some as contract employees.
Bustle Digital Group did not immediately respond for comment on the new Mic content, but Thursday, details broke that suggested 2019 could be a big year for the company's newly acquired properties. According to CNN's Oliver Darcy, Gawker, which was purchased by Bustle Digital Group in 2018, has made its first four editorial hires: Carson Griffith, Ben Barna, Maya Kosoff, and Anna Breslaw.