Friday, November 07, 2008

State of the Media: Newspapers, Magazines, Television - A downhill slide in 2008 with staff cuts and closures - List of recent losses

I have been back home in Santa Cruz, California, for nearly three weeks now after my trip to Brazil and Peru in September and October. As a freelance journalist, it's part of my job to keep up with industry trends. I read dozens of publications both online and in print, so it's no surprise that media jobs are vanishing as the economy suffers and technology shifts.
But the recent landslide of deep cuts in media staffing and publications is stunning!

Here is a grim sampling from November reports from two of my favorite sources which compile industry news from a variety of sources: (Newsfeed) and Wooden Horse Publications. In my next blog entry, I will write about some GOOD NEWS that comes with these changes!

Christian Science Monitor to Go Web-Only
The Christian Science Monitor plans major changes in April 2009 that are expected to make it the first newspaper with a national audience to shift from a daily print format to an online publication that is updated continuously each day. The changes at the Monitor will include enhancing the content on, starting weekly print and daily e-mail editions, and discontinuing the current daily print format. WaPo: "Everyone who grew up with print, and everyone who worked in print like me, you feel a little sad," editor John Yemma said in an interview. But he said the Church of Christ, Scientist, which has heavily subsidized the $26 million annual cost of running the Boston-based paper, wants to stem the flow of red ink.

Forbes: While other print publications have folded in favor of online in recent years, the Monitor's change is perhaps the most poignant acknowledgment thus far of the radical transformation in the newspaper business.

• Gannett Will Cut 10 Percent of Newspaper Jobs (Reuters)
Gannett Co Inc, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, is planning to cut about 10 percent of jobs at its local papers as it fights advertising declines made worse by the global financial crisis. It is the second round of layoffs that Gannett has planned in the past two months. In August, Gannett said it would eliminate 1,000 newspaper jobs, with 600 being laid off.

• Rodale has confirmed that they are laying off 111 employees or approximately 10% of the company and eliminating or consolidating positions in other divisions. No word yet on which magazines will be affected specifically -- Rodale publishes Runner's World, Men's Health, and Bicycling, among others.

• Tribune D.C. Staffers Bracing For Cuts, Consolidation
With word spreading that the Tribune Washington, D.C., bureau is headed for some major cutbacks and consolidation, staffers there are concerned but not surprised that such changes are in the works. Although Tribune Co. offered no official word about the cutbacks, which are expected to hit the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times D.C. outlets the hardest, those in the bureau are bracing for the worst

• News Corp. Cancels Annual Holiday Bash (TVNewser)

News Corp. is canceling its extravagant holiday bash normally held at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan. The annual party is for all News Corp. employees, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, the New York Post, the TV stations division, 20th Television, etc., etc. Expect this to be just the first of many holiday party cancellations due to the ailing economy.

• The Seattle Times Co. announced more cutbacks yesterday, including a reduction of 130 to 150 staff positions through a combination of buyouts and layoffs.

Washington Post Co.'s third quarter income plummets 85%. Although newspapers were hit the hardest, the company's magazine division reported an operating loss of $27 million for the first nine months of 2008, compared to an operating income of $14 million for the first nine months of 2007. NEWSWEEK's ad pages fell 17% through the first 9 months, according to Publishers Information Bureau.

At Conde Nast more than 100 people will be out of work in a one-day bloodbath that is unprecedented in the history of the company. As many as 60 people will lose their jobs at MEN'S VOGUE*, which is being cut back to two issues a year from ten and will now be a standalone supplement to VOGUE*. PORTFOLIO* is being downsized by 20% and, in a strange move, the 35 people on the online team were stripped to five. The print magazine had its frequency cut from 12 to ten.

Revenue at Meredith's publishing unit (BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS*, LADIES' HOME JOURNAL*, MORE*) dropped 9% in the last year, to $300 million. But ad revenues fell much more steeply, dropping 18% to $148 million. And the operating profit plummeted 40%, to $33 million.

• American Express Publishing (TRAVEL + LEISURE*, FOOD & WINE*), is eliminating 22 jobs across departments. Ad pages fell 3.6% in the first half of the year, according to

• Wenner Media (ROLLING STONE*, US WEEKLY*, MEN'S JOURNAL*) let go at least seven employees (2% of its 400 full-time employees) in the past week. The flagship magazine Rolling Stone faces an 18% decline in ad pages this year through Oct 16; Us Weekly declined 5% through its Oct 27 issue, per the MEDIAWEEK* Monitor.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's publishing division posted $122 million in revenue year-to-date, down 9% from $134 million during the same period last year. The company attributed Q3 publishing declines to "lower advertising pages, a shift in timing of special issues and the absence of BLUEPRINT", which folded late last year. But digital ad revenue increased 35% year-over-year, the company said.

• McGraw-Hill Companies (BUSINESSWEEK*, AVIATION WEEK*) said it eliminated 270 jobs company-wide in an effort to "contain costs and mitigate the impact of the current and expected future economic conditions." More than half of the cuts - 140 - came from its media and information division.

• Time Inc. Plans About 600 Layoffs (NYT)
Time Inc., the world's largest magazine publisher, plans to cut 6 percent of its work force -- more than 600 positions -- and will revamp the organization in a way that could radically alter the culture at the company.