Earlier this week, we received an anonymous tip from a burner email identified only as “Nomen Nescio.” The subject line read “BLOODBATH AT REVEAL” and the tipster sketched a series of firings at Reveal, the audio journalism arm of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Specifically, it claimed CIR’s top executive, Kaizar Campwala, had fired 10 staffers, largely editors and reporters, and that the newsroom’s executive editor had quit in protest.
Comparing Reveal’s current masthead with the WayBack Machine screenshot from February, it’s clear that several dozen staffers have left the newsroom in recent months. We reached out to all of them for comment, though we have not yet heard back. But it seems the tipster was right about several of the basic facts. This afternoon Current reported that Campwala had indeed “eliminated 10 positions due to financial concerns.” In a leaked email, Campwala also confirmed that the executive editor, Kevin Sullivan, had “made the decision to move on from CIR.” Neither returned Current’s requests for comment.
But the tipster also included some other details about the firing spree, which suggests there may have been additional context. They claimed departing staff “were forced to sign a NDA in exchange for two months severance” and “lost all access to slack and email and drive.” They also alleged that remaining employees were “scared because more firings are coming,” but barred from either tweeting or speaking to the press.
We reached out to Campwala for comment on the tip, but he did not immediately get back to us. This is a developing story and we will update if he does. If any current or former Reveal employees want to talk, drop us a line at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for secure messaging. Anonymity guaranteed.
Update 7.8.22: Campwala got back to us after this post published. Here’s how he responded to the tipster’s claims:
We offered impacted staff with as much severance and health care benefits as was fiscally possible. As is common practice, in exchange for accepting those benefits staff had an option to agree to a mutual non-disparagement agreement clause in a separation and release of claims agreement.
While we removed immediate access to organizational systems, we provided departing staff with the option to have individualized sessions to access all of their documents and email, as part of their exit. These cuts were made to ensure the organization is on firm fiscal footing. No further cuts are expected.
On the subject of whether staff were barred from speaking to the press or tweeting, Campwala wrote: “This is incorrect. Staff was asked to send press inquiries to the management team, but not barred from communicating with the press and we did not discuss social media.”