Newsweek Shareholders End Legal Dispute, Co-owner Davis Leaves Olivet Sect

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Newsweek’s publisher said on Thursday the company’s shareholders had resolved their legal disputes and one co-owner, Johnathan Davis, announced he had left the Olivet Christian sect which had been embroiled in the litigation.

The announcement of a settlement and Davis’s severing of ties with the World Olivet Assembly appear to end a long spell of turmoil for 90-year-old Newsweek. Disciples of controversial sect leader David Jang had sought to bring the publication under their control through a flurry of legal actions that the company countered with its own suits against Jang, Olivet and other groups associated with the Korean-American pastor.

“On the advent of Newsweek’s 90th anniversary, it’s heartening to know that the litigation is now behind us,” Newsweek CEO Dev Pragad was quoted as saying in a statement.

Newsweek did not set out the terms of the settlement nor respond to a request for comment on the details. IBT Media, one of the Jang-affiliated companies involved in the litigation, said it intended to fight on in court.

Founded in 1933, Newsweek has faced a turbulent start to the 21st century. Sold in 2010 for a dollar–and tens of millions of dollars in liabilities–by longtime owners the Washington Post Company, it went through a series of owners. The publication repeatedly came close to folding before a revival in recent years with a digital strategy that made it a case study for Harvard Business School.

The legal disputes erupted when Pragad, who like Davis owns 50 percent of the company, left Olivet last year. He said at the time that he wanted to protect the company and its newsroom from followers of Jang, some of whom have been in trouble with law enforcement for years and are now under criminal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.

Jang’s disciples have repeatedly tried and failed to shut down the Newsweek newsroom’s reporting of Olivet’s legal troubles, and the disputes have threatened to hobble the publication’s business as long as either of its co-owners was connected to Olivet.

Davis welcomed the deal and suggested that his wife, Tracy Davis, had also left Olivet, where she had once been one of the most high-profile leaders.

“With litigation behind us, and my family having severed ties with Olivet in November 2022, the team has my full support as they pursue the next phase of Newsweek’s growth.” Davis was quoted as saying in the statement.

Johnathan Davis did not answer questions sent via his lawyer James Catterson of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Tracy Davis also did not respond to a request for comment via Catterson. Davis was a former president of Olivet University. She stepped down from all roles at the college in November 2021, Olivet told Newsweek last year.

Olivet University did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

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