Peter S. Goodman
English, Chinese, Japanese, Italian
The International Business Times is an online news publication, that publishes seven national editions and four languages. The publication, sometimes called IBTimes or IBT, offers news, opinion, and editorial commentary on business and commerce. IBT is one of the world's largest online news sources; IBT's 2014 media kit claims that its online properties receive 40 million unique visitors each month. Its 2013 revenues were around $21 million.
IBTimes was launched in 2005; it is owned by IBT Media, and was founded by Etienne Uzac and Johnathan Davis. Its headquarters are in a former Newsweek office in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City.
Founder Etienne Uzac, a native of France, came up with the idea for the global business news site while a student at the London School of Economics. He found that the strongest business newspapers had a focus on the U.S and Europe and planned to provide broader geographic coverage. Uzac recruited Johnathan Davis to join him in the enterprise. In late 2005, Uzac and Davis moved to New York to launch the site, with Uzac primarily focused on business strategy, while Davis coded the site and wrote the first articles.
In May 2012, the company announced that Jeffery Rothfeder had been appointed as the publication's new Editor-in-Chief, while Davis, who previously served as Executive Editor, would manage the company's content strategy across all platforms as the Chief Content Officer.
On August 4, 2013, IBT Media, the owner of IBTimes, announced its purchase of Newsweek and newsweek.com from IAC/InterActiveCorp. The purchase did not include The Daily Beast. Peter S. Goodman, previously the executive business editor and global news editor of The Huffington Post, became the editor in 2014.
From March to July 2016, IBT laid off an estimated 30 percent of its editorial staff.
In late 2011, Google allegedly moved the outlet's articles down in search results in response to excessive search engine optimization activity. An internal IBT memo allegedly advised IBT journalists on how to "re-work a story you've already done and re-post it in the hopes that it will chart better via Google... Some people have been just re-posting the exact same story, with a new headline. We're not doing that anymore."
Reporting in 2014, Mother Jones claimed that IBT journalists are subject to constant demand to produce clickbait; one former employee reportedly complained that management issued "impossible" demands, including a minimum of 10,000 hits per article, and fired those who couldn't deliver. Of 432 articles published by IBT Japan in a certain time interval, 302 were reportedly created by copying sentences from Japanese media and combining them, "collage-style", to create stories that seemed new; IBT Japan apologized for the behavior and blamed it on a contract employee. Similarly, employees told The Guardian in 2014 that that at times they seemed to operate more as "content farms" demanding high-volume output than a source of quality journalism. At least two journalists were allegedly threatened with firing unless traffic to their articles increased sharply.
In 2016, IBT hired John Crowley, the Wall Street Journal's Europe, Middle East and Africa digital editor, as its UK editor-in-chief. Crowley stated "We are not a wire service or so-called paper of record... but I have a vision of where I want to take a site... we've got to have a USP (unique selling proposition)... make ourselves distinctive in journalistic terms."
Media Matters for America, a politically progressive journalism watchdog, labeled an IBT article linking Hillary Clinton's policies to the gun used in the Sandy Hook Massacre a "false and sloppy smear" that was based on a misreading of government documents. Media Matters also criticized IBT for publishing an article with the headline "Is Climate Change Real? President-Elect Donald Trump Says 'Nobody Really Knows' Whether The Threat Actually Exists", on the grounds that, while the article text acknowledges the scientific consensus, readers who only read the headline might be misled.
In the Columbia Journalism Review, contributing editor Trudy Lieberman credited IBT's David Sirota's investigative reporting for helping to drive a call for reform in Connecticut insurance regulation.
According to an article in Mother Jones magazine, in the early days of the International Business Times, IBT Media employed immigrant students of Olivet University to translate English into Chinese and other languages, working illegally and being paid less than minimum wage.
In 2016, employees complained publicly about missed payroll, meager or nonexistent severance packages following layoffs, and one-sided nondisclosure agreements.
Relationship to "The Community"
The connection of "The Community," a Christian sect led by a "charismatic Korean pastor named David Jang" with IBT is disputed: IBT states that many reports about connections with the Community are false or exaggerated.
Co-owners Johnathan Davis and Etienne Uzac both have ties to Olivet University, an evangelical school founded by David Jang. Graduates of Olivet have been hired to work at IBT Media in many areas; IBT Media has donated money to Olivet. Davis is a former teacher of journalism at Olivet; Davis' wife is the university's president. Uzac has been on Olivet's board of trustees; Uzac's wife has been the press secretary for the World Evangelical Alliance, which includes Olivet as a member. Davis has personally endorsed the "ex-gay" view that homosexuality can be a result of sexually abuse as children, and can be cured by therapy to make them heterosexual. Davis states that his work is separate from his faith, and has declined to elaborate on his religious views on homosexuality, stating that it "I'm not sure how it's relevant. People believe all sorts of weird things. But from a professional capacity, it's unrelated."
Christianity Today claimed in 2012 that it obtained an email in which Davis stated that he could not join a certain Jang-affiliated organization because his "commission is inherently covert". Davis denied the claim. According to Business Insider, there are signs that Jang's concept of journalism involves infusing the "Gospel message" into media.