Daily Beast Editor in Chief Tracy Connor Exits Amid Broad Leadership Shakeup

Hugh Dougherty, former deputy editor of the New York Post’s news features, will become the outlet’s new executive editor 

IAC and The Daily Beast
IAC/The Daily Beast

Tracy Connor, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, is leaving just months after a leadership shakeup that granted former ABC executive Ben Sherwood and former Hearst executive Joanna Coles a minority stake in the struggling news site. 

In a memo to staff on Tuesday, Sherwood announced that Connor would be leaving. Hugh Dougherty, most recently the deputy editor of the New York Post for news features, will be promoted to a new role of executive editor. The role is a further expansion of Connor’s previous responsibilities with Dougherty leading the Daily Beast’s editorial team. 

“Hugh’s appointment signals the start of our transformation of the newsroom and underlying business as we confront the realities of the moment and seize the opportunities ahead,” the memo to staffers reads. 

Dougherty, originally from Scotland, previously served as the executive editor for politics and features at The Daily Mail (U.S.). He also worked as a reporter and editor for The Evening Standard and an editor at The Sunday Telegraph. According to the memo, “He and his teams have won many of the top prizes in journalism on both sides of the pond.” 

“As you will see, Hugh’s smarts, judgment and commitment to excellence make him the perfect journalist and leader for our newsroom,” Sherwood wrote. “Especially as we seek to realize The Beast’s potential as an intelligent tabloid.” 

However, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation, “Staffers are losing their minds internally,” adding that owner Barry Diller, “might have a coup d’état attempt of some sort on his hands here soon.”

Regardless, the individual acknowledged that “it became increasingly clear … that Tracy wasn’t the right leader for the moment. You needed someone with an eye for gross margin who could achieve profitability.”

Sherwood also thanked Connor for her leadership over the years, her dedication, and “countless contributions,” adding that they wish her the best in her future endeavors. 

In April, Sherwood and Coles were granted a minority stake in the news site, with Sherwood serving as CEO and Coles serving as chief content and creative officer. The pair have since begun making changes to the outlet, shifting coverage toward more tabloid-esque content. 

Sherwood and Coles have also indicated that they intend to significantly reduce headcount at the publication, currently accepting buyout applications to hit a reduction threshold of $1.5 million, with further cuts expected. 


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