Media gossip blog Gawker has put the snarky Jewish magazine Heeb on a “deathwatch” for imminent closure. A number of anonymous sources have apparently told Gawker that the magazine is on the brink of folding. Heeb “was able to live high on the hog when there was a lot of money coming in, like around 2004,” one of these anonymous tipsters told the blog. “The fact that they were wasting money went kind of unnoticed by the Jewish organizations donating to them. But the recession hit them kind of hard.” Heeb’s editorial director countered that Heeb wasn’t “shutting down,” but, Gawker noted, she initially sidestepped the question of what would happen to the flagship print magazine (rather than its website or its parties). In response to further questioning from Gawker, she replied, “We have the utmost confidence in assuring you that our Spring edition will be out no later than Rosh Hashanah,” which we have to assume was a joke.
We conducted our own inquiry, with similar results. Former Heeb staffers told us they’d heard rumors of its demise but couldn’t confirm them. We asked the magazine’s music editor, Arye Dworken, what was going on, he maintained in an email that the gossip was just lashon hara that likely came from angry freelancers or ex-interns. “We as a magazine can’t be best friends with everyone and those non-best friends love coming out of the woodwork with ‘scandalous’ details (i.e., yawn, who cares, so what, etc.) when the rumor mill goes back into production,” he wrote. But when asked about the specific allegation that the print magazine, rather than the Heeb brand as a whole, was on its last, he dodged the question and referred it to editor in chief Josh Neuman. Neuman (who earlier told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency blog that Heeb was alive and well) responded in a short email, “Long story short: denying that we’ve decided to cease print.”
Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.