Earlier this month, Schneps Media announced that it had acquired Metro New York, the city's long-running freebie newspaper, along with its counterpart in Philadelphia. It was the latest in a string of purchases for the emerging local news behemoth, which recently snapped up amNewYork, then promptly gutted nearly the entire staff.
As of this week, the two ubiquitous subway papers—once competitors—have now been bundled into a single print product, dubbed amNewYork Metro. Two former editorial staffers from Metro, and none from the pre-Schneps amNewYork, remain employed at the new title. Daily content comes from both dedicated employees and stories published on Schneps' network of other hyperlocal sites, including its flagship Queens Courier, and other fairly recent additions to its portfolio like Brooklyn Paper, Downtown Express, the Bronx Times, and The Villager.
In contrast to the amNewYork acquisition, employees at Metro say they were informed this week that they will not receive any severance pay. Adding to their frustration, staffers said, they were told immediately following the sale that their jobs were likely safe.
"They completely misled us," said one employee, who asked for anonymity so they could speak freely. "To be working there for as long as a lot of us had—some people for nearly a decade—and to be treated with this level of disrespect is so unjustified and sickening."
Metro publishers Ed Abrams and Susan Peiffer did not respond to a request for comment. The owners announced just prior to the sale that Metro Boston would cease publishing after nearly two decades, while Metro Philadelphia will continue publishing under Schneps ownership.
“This is an exciting next step for our entire organization offering a unique opportunity to strengthen our position in the daily newspaper market and increase our readership to over 2.5 million readers in print each week and many more online,” Schneps Media CEO Joshua Schneps, a former investment banker who runs the publisher with his mother, Victoria Schneps-Yunis, said in a statement.
According to Schneps, amNewYork Metro's circulation is now 175,000 copies, which the company touts as "more than twice than that of any other major daily circulated in the five boroughs." (The Daily News and the Post report daily circulations around 200,000, while the Times figure appears to be closer to half a million). They claim a digital reach of 3.5 million uniques visitors monthly.
As the Queens-based publisher continues its rapid expansion, the company has faced growing criticism for its editorial and business practices. Former reporters who spoke to Gothamist after the amNewYork sale said that the Schneps owners forced them to write sponsored content, while shielding advertisers and local officials from critical coverage.
Josh Schneps has denied those charges, saying that reporters were only asked to write advertorial content on rare occasions.
The company also publishes a promotional "newspaper" for Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, full of glowing stories about the borough president that are sometimes pulled directly from Brooklyn Paper.
A recent Mediaite story details other criticisms of the publisher—including that production work was outsourced to Ukraine, leading to "communication issues as well as errors being printed"— concluding the merger "spells bad news for local journalism."
Gothamist's inquiries to Josh Schneps were not immediately returned—we'll update if we hear back.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of former Metro New York and amNewYork editorial staffers who currently work for Schneps. The correct is number is two, not zero. The company has also offered jobs to some former employees in Philadelphia. Schneps did not purchase the assets of Metro Boston, as initially reported.