#IBTWTF: IBT Media faces accusations of failing to pay staffers, severance

Former IBT Media employees have taken to Twitter en masse to protest the publisher’s failure to pay severance, using the hashtag #IBTWTF in a damning series of tweets.

It’s an unusual tactic, but nothing about IBT has been usual. The 9-year-old media company rapidly expanded to try to transform itself from an SEO-driven shop into a legitimate journalistic enterprise, only to melt down. The publisher laid off scores of people last month at its flagship International Business Times and Newsweek, which it bought three years ago, separating it from The Daily Beast.

The laundry list of complaints is long and unsavory. Twitter users are alleging that the company laid off people with no notice and meager severance, didn’t pay its international staff in June, hasn’t sent people their personal belongings from the offices and is not answering inquiries.

Owen Davis, a former reporter at IBT, said he and other fellow staffers who were laid off decided to publicly air their grievances after the company took two weeks after their layoff to inform them of the severance terms, then refused to budge when they asked for better benefits. The company offered one week’s severance per year for people who were there more than a year and nothing for people who were there less than a year, Davis said.

“It’s an insult,” he said in a phone interview. “We put in long hours, won awards and increased their stature in the journalism world. We feel like we negotiated in good faith. At this point the company has stonewalled. We hope they’ll see the public at large and greater journalism community has no respect for this behavior towards journalists.”

Also resurfacing in the hashtag are the IBT Media founders’ ties to a controversial pastor and evangelical college he founded. One of the founders, Johnathan Davis, has said his work and his faith were separate. But the Guardian reported that the company gave money to the school — a revelation that seems more relevant in light of allegations that the company stiffed vendors and its employees.

IBT Media executives have not responded to requests for a comment; we will update this story if they do.

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