Big Magazines Hit By Layoffs

Magazines As a secular downturn in the magazine business is aggravated by the broader economic crisis, publishers have been moving aggressively to cut costs with buyouts and layoffs. The last few weeks have seen a series of reports of staff reductions from some of the leading American magazine publishers.

Time Inc, the world's largest magazine publishing company, plans a restructuring that could lead to as many as 600 job cuts, or about 6 percent of its work force.

"Industry conditions have been challenging due to the financial crisis, which has produced sharp decreases in advertising spending. This is expected to continue through most of 2009," Time Inc Chairman-CEO Ann Moore wrote in a memo sent to Time Inc. employees on Tuesday.

McGraw-Hill said during its third-quarter earnings announcement that it would cut 270 positions across the company, including 140 jobs at the Information and Media unit, which produces BusinessWeek, along with other B2B publications. McGraw Hill didn't specify how many of these cuts would affect BusinessWeek. Overall, the Information and Media unit's revenues rose 5.3% in the third quarter, but McGraw-Hill attributed this increase to Platt's, a business information brand covering petroleum and natural gas.



At the beginning of October, ad pages at BusinessWeek were down 17% for the year to date, according to MIN Online. Earlier this year, the company scrapped plans to launch regional editions of the magazine, beginning with BusinessWeek Chicago, citing adverse economic conditions.

Also this week, Wenner Media, the publisher of Rolling Stone, Us Weekly and Men's Journal, laid off seven people from the editorial and corporate sides of the business, according to the Mediaweek Web site. That's equal to less than 2% of Wenner's total full-time staff of 400. The company's flagship, Rolling Stone, has been hit hard by the downward trend in music magazines; through the first week of October, Rolling Stone's ad pages were down 17.5% to 824, according to MIN Online. Us Weekly was down a more modest 5.4% to 1,420.

Last week, Time Inc.'s Southern Progress Corp., which publishes titles like Southern Living and Cooking Light, said it had laid off 30 employees or about 3% of the unit's workforce, with the cuts coming mostly at its ailing print operations. With the exception of one title, ad pages at Southern Progress magazines are down across the board, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

For the year to date, Southern Living is down 11.3% to 875 pages, Cooking Light is down 19.3% to 916, Cottage Living is down 9.1% to 358, Health is down 12% to 722, Coastal Living is down 27.9% to 554, and Sunset is down 23.5% to 568. Only Southern Accents is up, with a 9.9% increase to 459 pages.

Altogether, the unit's ad pages fell 15.5% compared to the first nine months of last year, from about 5,260 to 4,450.

A week prior to Time Inc.'s announcement, on Oct. 11, Hearst closed CosmoGirl and initiated a cost-cutting campaign that involves an unknown number of layoffs, according to Women's Wear Daily. One of the titles feeling the pinch of President Cathie Black was Harper's Bazaar, which closed sales offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, hiring an outside firm to handle its West Coast business.

On Oct. 13, Mansueto Ventures, the publisher of Fast Company and Inc., announced it was cutting 20 jobs to trim costs. The news came as something of a surprise, as its magazines are among the few business titles to enjoy growth in ad pages despite the secular downturn and financial crisis. Per PIB, Fast Company's ad pages are up 31.1% to 387, while Inc. saw a more modest 3.2% increase to 602.

Finally, on Oct. 16, Playboy Enterprises announced that it would cut 55 employees and get rid of 25 unfilled spots, for a total of 80 positions eliminated. Per PIB, Playboy's ad pages are down 6.5% to 322 in the first three quarters of 2008.

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