Time Inc. Fires 289
Time, Inc. is continuing to downsize its staff, eliminating 289 jobs yesterday, including
117 on “the business side” and 172 from the editorial team. No word yet on how the breakdown but “crown jewel People, flagship Time and other magazines from Entertainment Weekly to Sports Illustrated” were hit.
“As you all know, the past year has been a time of transition at Time Inc.,” said Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore in a midday memo to staff. “While we continue to invest in our core magazines, we are also focused on transforming our work force and broadening our digital capabilities in order to become a truly multiplatform publisher. But progress brings change and we need to continue to evolve to meet the cost pressures and challenges presented by our rapidly shifting industry,” she added.
The handling of the cuts wasn’t the best, either:
Time magazine’s regular 10 a.m. meeting was canceled in favor of an all-hands gathering later on, leaving staffers to worry and wait. The word in the end was that the newsweekly will lose 40 or more spots, of which it hopes 31 will be volunteers. Time also shut down its Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta bureaus.
When businesses restructure, it’s imperative to make the staff cuts in one fell swoop so that anxiety doesn’t build and good people don’t jump ship. Anticipation of bad news is usually worse than the event itself in these cases.
I’m not sure what Time‘s business model is at this point. I subscribed to all three of the big newsweeklies at one point, although I canceled Time rather quickly because it was the least hard-newsy. It has been years since I took Newsweek or US News, either, although I occasionally read stories online.
Still, if Time is going to survive as a major player, it has to do so on the strength of a deep, talented editorial staff. Shutting down regional bureaus and decimating the staff strokes me as wrongheaded, as strong beat reporting is the only reason a weekly could be relevant in an instant information world.
UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis provides an inside perspective on Time, Inc. and thinks this long overdue. He describes the inefficient process at People in the 1980s:
Mind you, once reported by a cadre of correspondents and written by a staff writer in New York, it was edited (read: rewritten) by a senior editor and edited (yes, rewritten), by an assistant managing editor, and then edited (and, with surprising freqency, rewritten) by the managing editor. And then the research came along to try to correct all the errors this process inserted in the story.
The ’80s were a long time ago, of course, but he notes that Entertainment Weekly‘s staff had grown to enormous proportions as recently as last year. Romenesko has links to a series of reports on the story, most of which seem to support Jeff’s thesis.