Seventeen-Year Vet Will Blog on Newsweekly’s Web Site

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Mort Zuckerman’s U.S. News & World Report has canceled the well-known “On Society” column written by John Leo since 1988 and offered the writer a spot on its Web site.

John Leo
The magazine has handed pink slips or reassignments to other reporters and writers this year, including chief political correspondent Roger Simon and congressional correspondent Terence Samuel, as part of an ongoing effort to thrive amid economic pressures and generate new growth online.

Mr. Leo first learned that brass was abandoning his column about six weeks ago, when he received a call from Brian Duffy, editor. “They called up and said we’ve come to a parting of the ways,” he said this morning. “I wasn’t really told why. I assume it was financial but they didn’t say.”

A U.S. News spokeswoman, reached this morning, was unable to provide comment by deadline.

Despite the lack of a personal explanation, even from longtime friend Mr. Zuckerman, Mr. Leo sounded content. “I’ve never been confused about who owns the property,” he said. “Just because I’ve been here 17 years doesn’t mean I deserve 20.”

His debut on the Web site, a blog-like feature, arrives tomorrow, Nov. 30. But he may not linger too long.

“They asked me if I wanted to keep the office and for a certain sum, blog on their Web site,” he said. “I would hesitate to call it a real salary.” Asked about his plans, Mr. Leo said he was not sure. “I have to see what’s going on and what’s around.”

Before joining U.S. News, Mr. Leo had been an editor and writer at Time Inc.’s Time and a reporter for The New York Times. His books include “Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police” and the humorous “How the Russians Invented Baseball and Other Essays of Enlightenment.”

His last column in the magazine appeared in this week’s issue, which came out Monday.

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