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MORE AHEAD: Condé Nast probably won’t be the only publisher to implement layoffs this fall. “Now that Condé Nast has made this move, you should anticipate other companies making some moves that they were reluctant to do because of competitive pressures,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner at DeSilva + Phillips.
To wit, staffers at Time Inc. are bracing for another round of job cuts to occur before Christmas. Such cuts would follow a restructuring that included 600 job cuts last fall across many magazines including People, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated and Fortune. The company also dismissed 289 employees in early 2007. “We’re always reviewing our organization and cost structure,” said a company spokeswoman.
This story first appeared in the October 9, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Though insiders believe layoffs would be spread across many of its properties, many have pondered the future of Entertainment Weekly, which has suffered steep declines in advertising and has seen profits shrink in recent years. Though October, the title has carried 655 pages, about a third less than the same period a year ago. That follows a 20 percent decline in paging in 2008, to 1,215. Time Inc., however, shot down rumors the magazine would fold, and those in support of the magazine say it has renewed energy under new managing editor Jess Cagle, a former People executive editor and favorite of People Group editor Martha Nelson who took over in January, and publisher Ray Chelstowski, a former publisher at Rolling Stone, who joined in April. “There are no plans to close Entertainment Weekly or turn it into only an online property. We believe it’s a vibrant weekly magazine with a popular Web site that consumers love.”
Over at Hearst, a spokeswoman said that, as of now, the company has “no major changes planned at the moment and, in fact, is still hiring.” Hearst, as well as Rodale and Wenner Media, cut jobs last year and Hearst also closed Cosmogirl and O at Home.
Meanwhile, the layoffs at Condé Nast continued across several divisions, including a dozen or so staffers each at Brides, the company’s consumer marketing division and its digital group. Similar staff reductions are expected at individual magazines through the end of the month and beyond, as editors and publishers have been charged with cutting up to 25 percent from their 2010 budgets by way of reducing head count, operational costs or other means. As a result, most titles are expected to reduce their head counts by 10 to 20 people. The turnover at Brides’ sales side was driven by the arrival of a new publisher Carolyn Kremins, the former publisher of Cookie. She replaced 14 Brides salespeople with her old team at Cookie. However, Kremins brought over those people at lower pay levels, as Brides’ 2010 budget reflecting the 25 percent reduction was already finalized. At Condé’s Digital Group, most of the staffers laid off were on the sales side, as president Drew Schutte reorganized the sales force into affinity groups — fashion & beauty, technology and lifestyle — creating a more uniform sales group across all of its brands. Finally, Nancy Berger Cardone, former publisher of Gourmet, will leave the company after the food titled folded on Monday.
— Stephanie D. Smith
DOWN TO THE WIRE: Expect an announcement any day now with regards to the future of BusinessWeek and its employees. Some describe the atmosphere inside of the magazine’s offices as business as usual, while others are more resigned and have begun packing up their things. Bloomberg LP remains the front-runner, although the company is expected to only take on the BusinessWeek name and Web site, and none of its staff or bureaus. Mort Zuckerman and OpenGate Capital have reportedly bowed out of the bidding.
By all accounts, the deal hasn’t been sealed and there are still a few sticking points in negotiations, including who will pay the severance packages of BusinessWeek’s staff — Bloomberg or current owner McGraw-Hill Cos. If Bloomberg does take over BusinessWeek, the company is expected to use the staff from Bloomberg Markets magazine to provide editorial for the acquired title.
— Amy Wicks
ON THE SCREEN: Bloomingdale’s has long taken fashion cues from movies, but now the retailer is giving something back by participating in the Hamptons International Film Festival, where five new short films commissioned by the store will screen at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, with a Q&A with the directors afterwards. The films debuted at Bloomingdale’s last month as part of the store’s “Lights; Camera; Fashion” campaign. The movies were produced in partnership with Young Indies Films. “It’s part of Bloomingdale’s DNA,” said Jack Hruska, executive vice president of creative services, “to uncover new talent whether in fashion or home, or, in this case, entertainment.” The films are: “My Adventures in Ladies Undergarments, 4th Floor” directed by Antonio Campos; “The Love Game,” directed by Andrew Hunt; “Recession Special,” directed by Emily Abt; “Tall Enough,” directed by Barry Jenkins, and “Tea for Three,” directed by Amy Redford.
— David Moin