Benny Johnson has been demoted from his role as chief content at the Independent Journal Review after an internal review concluded he violated several company standards, a person familiar with the matter told Business Insider on Friday.
The announcement was made by IJR founder Alex Skatell on an editorial call.
“Alex made it very clear to the company that Benny is being demoted,” the person said.
Johnson, according to the source familiar with the matter, will no longer be managing any employees at the conservative, upstart news website. He will also be forced to take communications training and be subject to a daily review, in addition to serving out a one-week suspension, the source said.
Johnson’s exact new role at the company was not immediately clear. A spokesperson for IJR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The demotion came after a Business Insider story, citing current and former IJR staffers, revealed Johnson to have been a verbally abusive manager who had flagrantly violated company ethics, including having been accused of plagiarism in 2015 by his colleagues (he had previously been fired from BuzzFeed for serial plagiarism).
A company review conducted this week found that in the 2015 story in question, Johnson appeared to “have not been properly quoted or attributed during the creation process.”
Johnson was previously reprimanded by human resources for his verbal conduct with employees, a person familiar with the matter said.
Earlier this week, IJR suspended Johnson, viral editor Kyle Becker, and content editor Becca Lower over a post that was published which peddled a baseless conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama.
In an all-staff email, Emily Hulsey, IJR’s director of editorial operations, said that after the internal review, the company decided to also suspend Becker for two weeks and Lower for one day. Becker will also be required to take mandatory communications training.
IJR jumped on the scene last week after its reporter was granted exclusive access to trail Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his first trip abroad as the nation’s top diplomat.
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