Slate honcho Jacob Weisberg has addressed Double X's shuttering as a stand-along entity in a memo, confirming some layoffs and characterizing the site's demotion to a section of Slate as "returning Double X to the womb from which it sprang."
Get it? Womb? It's a site for ladies, who have wombs! Anyway, thanks for the image, Jake. Weisberg's memo confirms that Double X publisher Peggy White is leaving, and that associate editor Samantha Henig will be let go at the end of the year unless another job can be found for her at one of the Slate Group's other sites. (We were dubious about Weisberg's characterization of White's departure as voluntary—"I'm sorry to say that Peggy White has decided to pursue other opportunities"—but we asked her, and she confirms that it was.)
A tipster tells us that Weisberg gave Hanna Rosin, Emily Bazelon, and Meghan O'Rourke a two-year commitment when they launched the site six months ago, and that the new site design—now abandoned—that Weisberg references in the memo had been scheduled to roll out today:
From: Jacob Weisberg
Sent: Mon 11/16/2009 2:45 PM
Subject: The Next Double X
SLATE GROUP CONFIDENTIAL
We're writing to let you all know that we've decided to turn Double X into a section of Slate and to stop publishing it as a separate site. This is a business and a practical decision, not an editorial one. We love Double X and are extremely proud of what it has accomplished journalistically over the past seven months. We believe in it and want it to continue growing. We see this change as an example of fast evolution in response to what we've learned about a rapidly shifting marketplace. Bringing Double X back into Slate should make it easier to develop both the editorial and business sides of the project while reducing our costs significantly.
Returning Double X to Slate is a good option in part because Double X has done so well in maintaining Slate's DNA while branching out into areas Slate has never before covered in depth. David agrees that returning Double X to the womb from which it sprang should be an easy fit. To readers, there should be little visible change. Part of the Slate Group concept has always been that we can have it both ways on the question of what is and isn't a separate site — Slate V being a prime example. Some readers now understand Double X to be as a section of Slate. Some in the future will continue to regard it as separate. We're happy to fudge on this question.
Under the hood, there will be some changes. We have a lot still to figure out, but our expectation is that we'll begin publishing Double X on Gutenberg by the beginning of next year, and then migrate the archives from Drupal. Unfortunately, shifting the CMS means abandoning a very nice homepage redesign that was near to completion. We'll see the benefit of that work, however, in The Big Money's adoption of a similar template later this week, and eventually in a version of it on the Root.
Emily, Hanna and Jessica will continue to run Double X. As a section of Slate, it will report to Julia Turner. Noreen, whose time was divided between Double X and TBM, will now divide her time between The Big Money and Slate, which should help with the added copy-editing load. Samantha is staying with us at least until the end of the year to help with the transition, by which time we're hoping to have found
her another position inside the Slate Group. I'm sorry to say that Peggy White has decided to pursue other opportunities. It's been our pleasure working with her and we're sorry to see her go.
Jacob and John