The New York Daily News‘ editor-in-chief of seven years, Martin Dunn, is out as this this afternoon in a move that staffers at the paper are “pretty surprised” by. Dunn sent out a memo notifying his staff that Hamilton Nolan at Gawker just posted. Nolan heard that rumors of the “real explanation” behind Martin Dunn’s departure from the daily are now flying around the newsroom. We talked to a few NYDN staffers on if it was true, and just what some of them were.
One staff reporter doesn’t actually think much is “up” here: “Nobody knew until half an hour ago. Yeah, we’re surprised, but not freaked out,” he noted. “Look, he’s been here for seven years, if he needs the time to deal with a family crisis, which we’re pretty sure is the case, he needs it. And of course he’s gonna pursue other options outside of this after whatever he’s dealing with gets dealt with. A lot of people think he’s gonna end up in a job in the UK.”
Another staff reporter had a different take: “He’s got a non-compete, he has to wait to take a different job. That’s why the other exciting stuff isn’t happening for a few months after “family matters” or whatever. That’s one theory. The other possibility is (pre-empting) an upper management shakeup, for whatever reason.”
Our second source didn’t elaborate on why upper-management might want to shake Dunn out. There have been numerous rounds of buyouts — which are obviously by no means Dunn’s fault — and Dunn’s been able to attract reporting talent away from the New York Post without issue after maybe one too many of his star writers (like gossip columnist George Rush or political reporter David Saltonstall) took said buyouts.
Whatever the reason is — be it the “family matters” one Dunn gave his staff or an upcoming job he’ll have to wait out a non-compete agreement to take — the common consensus is that Martin Dunn is definitely not done making money in the business that the NY Daily News is in. It just won’t be with them any more, and it’s not going to start again for a few months.
The story that holds the most weight comes from a former NYDN staffer in close touch with the newsroom who hears that “Martin’s wife Debbie has a very serious illness [which Hamilton Nolan has now reported from Dunn himself as cancer], and Martin had to make up his mind on how to move forward and deal with it. He’s also been approached by different investors to start up a business that he can hold some equity in. It’s really a confluence of reasons, but realize: this was a job he never expected to do in the first place.”
“Marty was originally given the title of editorial director, and [was then shifted into the position of] editor-in-chief after Michael Cooke left the position.”
“Well, Cook was welcomed back to the Chicago Sun-Times, even after the numerous fuckups at the News. But Dunn, rather than being able to persue his grand vision for the paper as editorial director — web strategy, overseeing the general editorial direction, that kind of thing — was sidelined by the day-to-day of running the paper as the editor-in-chief. It was never a job he wanted. But the final factor might’ve been Mark Kramer, the top business guy at the News who Dunn clashed with repeatedly. This proved very frustrating to Marty, often. It was definitely a bunch of factors, those among them. But Dunn was fairly beloved by much of the staff. They’re gonna miss him.”