Founder and editor Marc Smirnoff and managing editor Carol Ann Fitzgerald are no longer employed by the Oxford American, publisher Warwick Sabin said today. Asked about the circumstances and whether they were fired, Sabin said, “as with all Oxford American personnel matters, the details are confidential.”
Sabin will serve as interim editor.
“The plan is to continue publishing the Oxford American and delivering additional content over our website and proceeding as normal,” he said. “The organization is in good health and we feel confident about the future.”
Sabin said the end of Smirnoff and Fitzgerald’s employment at the magazine happened unexpectedly, so he doesn’t have a time frame for finding a permanent editor. He said the magazine would release details and decisions as they happen and would be contacting its contributors in the coming days.
The next edition will be published on Sep. 1 as planned, Sabin said.
Smirnoff founded the magazine in 1992 in Oxford, Miss. Fitzgerald joined the magazine in 2003, near the end of its time in Little Rock. She continued once the publication was put under the control of The Oxford American Literary Project nonprofit and moved to the University of Central Arkansas in 2004. For at least several of the years the magazine’s editorial offices have been in Conway, Smirnoff and Fitzgerald have dated and lived together.
In full disclosure, I worked with Smirnoff and later Fitzgerald from 2002 until 2003 and then again in 2005.
A personnel issue at the magazine became apparent last week when employees were locked out of the publication’s editorial offices on the campus at the University of Central Arkansas. A routine police report on the action noted that a personnel review was underway, according to this account in the Log Cabin Democrat.
MAX HERE: I’m trying to reach the departed employees for comment. I probably also should note for any who might not know that Publisher Sabin is a former associate editor at the Times. Sabin tells me that the remaining Oxford American staff — three full-time employees and five interns — are not yet back in offices at UCA, but he hopes to accomplish reopening of the offices today or tomorrow. He wouldn’t comment on any specifics related to Smirnoff and Fitzgerald, including what arrangements might have been made for them to retrieve personal items from the offices. Sabin was in New Orleans Sunday to participate in an event announcing a planned TV program on Louisiana music by Harry Connick Jr. It will air in December, the same month as Oxford American’s annual music issue, this year devoted to Louisiana music.
UPDATE II: Smirnoff responds.