off the record
This summer has been a rough one in media, following on the heels of a rough spring, winter and fall. Every week seemed to bring news of yet another round of layoffs, yet another publication crumbling and shedding staff.
Getting laid off is like getting broken up with: It doesn’t really matter how it happens. There’s a reason that Jerry Seinfeld advised George Costanza that a breakup needs to be like taking off a Band-Aid. (“One motion—right off!”)
There’s really no good way to do it. Whether it’s a surprise attack or a looming threat, the rest of the media industry ends up talking about the heartless method that the company used, when it’s the terminations themselves that are the real cause of pain.
Hearst laid off editors in the company’s digital division today. Elle.com editor Amina Akhtar and Cosmopolitan digital director Abby Gardner have both been let go, Mashable reports. Mashable updated its post earlier this afternoon to include the fact that Ms. Gardner’s out of office auto response confirms that she is no longer at Cosmo.
Both editors took control of the news on their Twitter feeds.
Hard times are hitting Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news sites. In an earnings call yesterday, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said that he expects to shut, sell or find partners for nearly 300 of the 900 sites, Newsday reported this morning. Additionally, Mr. Armstrong said that layoffs will eliminate up to 500 positions, reported Jim Romenesko. Details of the layoffs will be announced on Friday.
Giving employees two days to speculate about upcoming layoffs understandably rankled staffers.
Media Winter Redux
As we wait for final details of the Newsbeast staff cuts, we came across an impassioned case against layoffs that ran in the pages of Newsweek almost three years ago. The article, which was published before Tina Brown took over the magazine and merged it with her Daily Beast website, explained “our over-reliance on downsizing is killing workers, the economy–and even the bottom line.”
“Layoffs are mostly bad for companies, harmful for the economy, and devastating for employees,” the piece concludes. “The damage from overzealous downsizing will linger even as the economy recovers—and as it does, perhaps managers will learn from their mistakes.”
However, the piece also noted the argument against layoffs doesn’t apply to the media industry and went on to provide a grim forecast for the now folded magazine’s future.
Update: A source calls the layoffs “a bloodbath” and estimates that half the editorial staff will be gone.
Newsweek’s print edition is ending in a matter of weeks, and the anticipated staff changes have already begun. Layoffs are expected to be announced this afternoon, a tipster tells us. Meanwhile, we hear that a few Read More
Publisher Simon & Schuster announced a major restructuring plan that will bring together all its imprints into four groups. As part of the new plan, Free Press will be folded into the Simon & Schuster group and editors have been laid off. Free Press publisher Martha Levin and Free Press editor-in-chief Dominick Anfuso are out, as are editors Webster Younce, Emily Loose and Alessandra Bastagli.
“Unfortunately, as result of this reorganization, several positions within the group have been eliminated,” S&S publisher Jonathan Karp wrote in an internal email about the reorganization. “On behalf of everyone who has worked with them, I want to thank our departing colleagues for their efforts on behalf of our authors and contributions to our success.”
Condé Nast has laid off 60 staffers this week. Self and Brides seem to be the hardest hit while The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue have so far been spared.
Cutbacks at hip-hop magazine XXL, Barry Diller gets ’bout About, Pat Kiernan’s revenge narrative, Tina Brown’s tour of the woodshed, and the reason we will never, ever, ever be invited back on RT/Russia Today, at least for the 8 p.m. hour. All of this and more in your Tuesday Evening Media Briefs:
Layoffs are hitting the editorial staff at The Village Voice today, and they’re hitting some of the most widely-read staff writers in the office. The Observer has heard from multiple sources familiar with the situation that the bad news is beginning to spread around the office, and that the following people are out at the Voice:
The bad news keeps coming at the New York Daily News. Another two staffers have been let go, and the rumor is that there are more to come.