Layoffs came even earlier than Us Weekly staffers expected. Sources say that around 40 people have been let go as of Thursday afternoon. It is estimated that Us Weekly has around 115 employees.
The job cuts come a week after American Media Inc., which owns National Enquirer, Star, OK! and Radar Online, closed on a deal with Wenner Media to buy the celebrity tabloid for a reported $100 million.
Among those cut were editor in chief Michael Steele and editorial director Jaimee Zanzinger, both of whom had to lead the meetings about the job cuts. Design director Victor Thompson, deputy editor April P. Bernard and online executive editor Justin Ravitz were also let go, as was the entire L.A. editorial team, WWD has learned.
An AMI spokesman declined to comment.
Following the announcement of the deal last week, panic spread through the newsroom as the staff braced for inevitable layoffs and consolidation. AMI’s chairman and chief executive officer David Pecker is known for serious cost cuts and running a lean ship. AMI already has a centralized news structure and a consolidated back office. In January, the company consolidated the staff of Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness. The changes translated to about 16 layoffs, the bulk of which came from the editorial staff of Men’s Fitness, as well as the departure of Dave Zinczenko, executive vice president and editorial director.
Back in New York, there were tears in Wenner’s Midtown headquarters when staffers were notified, an insider said. Over the past week, staffers were interviewed about their jobs as part of a reapplication process. According to an insider, some staffers were asked to “throw others under the bus,” while others were questioned about work flow and the process of reporting and posting stories.
But according to a source familiar with the deal, the meetings were little more than a formality. As expected, the majority of the print side was let go.
Severance details have not yet been worked out.