TIMELY BLOODSHED: The ax finally dropped at Time Inc. on Thursday, but the news of 289 jobs cut across a number of titles left most staffers unshaken. “Everyone knew this day was coming,” said one insider. Details of who will be exiting the building will emerge over the next few weeks. As one former Time Inc.-er described “it takes a day or so for the bodies to float to the surface.”
The cuts will come via a combination of Newspaper Guild-protected employees, who may volunteer to take buyout packages, and those who are simply asked to leave. In all, 172 staffers in editorial, split evenly between volunteer Guild members and non-volunteers, and 117 publishing executives are being let go. The deadline for volunteers to come forward is Feb. 1. The latest cuts will reduce Time Inc.’s worldwide workforce to around 10,500, with about 7,200 of those employed in the U.S.
“Let me stress that these layoffs are not about performance of the individuals involved; the layoffs are about the restructuring of our editorial staffs as we move quickly into a future of flexible, multiplatform content creation,” said John Huey, Time Inc. editor in chief, said in a statement. “That means redesigning and rethinking much of what we do to ensure we are as efficient as possible. In some cases, that requires reassigning responsibilities among staffers. And unfortunately, in some cases that requires a leaner workforce.”
People, the biggest money maker at Time Inc. that had been left relatively unscathed in previous layoffs, was hit hard by the cuts. The weekly is closing four bureaus — Miami, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Austin, Tex., — which will leave 15 reporters without a job. The title is also said to be asking for 24 Guild-covered employees, including seven writers, to step forward for buyout packages. That said, the magazine has added seven positions to maintain its regional coverage as it changes its reporting structure so fewer employees write and report each story.
Time will close three bureaus — Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles — but will keep three employees in L.A. as “laptop correspondents,” working from their homes or perhaps the nearest Starbucks. At least one insider wasn’t surprised at the closings, commenting, “They just weren’t getting the volume out of the bureaus that they would get out of New York.” The magazine has asked for up to 31 volunteers from Guild-covered positions to give up their positions, and let a number of employees go on the business and editorial side.
Sports Illustrated asked for more than 20 volunteers, including six writers, though most of the employees were out of the office Thursday after working on Monday, the Martin Luther King Day holiday. There was also some consolidation of some of the business functions at the company’s Southern Progress titles, including Health, Sunset, and Cooking Light.
How much these cuts will cost — and eventually save — wasn’t revealed by the company. Time Inc. shed more than 400 jobs during several rounds of layoffs in late 2005 and early 2006, closed teen title Teen People in the summer, put its Time 4 Media magazines up for sale (and it still hasn’t sold them, even though it originally wanted to close the deal before the end of 2006), and cut another 27 jobs in consumer marketing just before the end of the year. Thursday’s layoffs come after McKinsey & Co. had spent several months scrutinizing Time Inc.’s operations to find efficiencies to free up capital to invest in the Web. Will more layoffs come through 2007? “We’re not looking at any large rounds of layoffs. But we’re consistently looking at our operations,” said a spokeswoman for the company.
— Stephanie D. Smith
NOT SO FAST: Looks like Graydon Carter won’t be hosting a dinner in Paris for Diane von Furstenberg and fashion and style director Michael Roberts after all. The Vanity Fair editor in chief was set to celebrate the two on Tuesday during the Paris couture shows, but had to bow out at the last minute. At least it’s for a good reason — Vanity Fair’s March issue, its Hollywood issue, is shaping up to be the largest in the magazine’s history. The issue will also be the first Hollywood edition under Roberts in his new post. Special correspondent Bob Colacello will host the party in Carter’s place. The March issue hits newsstands Feb. 7.
WHERE IS THE LOVE?: In February’s installment of “life with andré,” Vogue’s editor at large André Leon Talley writes about assisting “Dreamgirls” breakout star Jennifer Hudson with her search for the perfect Golden Globes dress. Talley writes the list was quickly narrowed down to two designers: Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel and Costello Tagliapietra. So how did Hudson end up wearing a navy blue gown by former Vogue editor Vera Wang? Blame it on “a copy gaf.” According to a Vogue spokesman, who got the details on the snafu from Talley via phone from Europe, Wang was in the running all along but “somehow” the details on the designer and her dress didn’t make it into Talley’s column. Oh those gremlins.
— Amy Wicks
PURPLE PROSE: Helmut Lang’s break from fashion is leading him ever deeper into the recondite world of art. The latest example of the designer’s creative streak is a series of letters, notes and other sundry documents dating from 1986 that he is publishing in a supplement to Paris’s Purple fashion magazine. Lang’s HL-Art company said the miscellanea are part of an ongoing project called “Selective Memory Series,” which it described as “indefinite by nature and continuously nurtured.” Purple’s 80-page selection includes epistolary exchanges with the likes of Anna Wintour and Juergen Teller. “It’s mail art,” quipped Purple editor in chief Olivier Zham. Lang, who left his namesake fashion company after a divorce with Prada Group, slowly has been assuming a more public profile, having recently contributed art to magazines such as Self Service and Achtung.
— Robert Murphy
SLIMMING DOWN: Is Hachette Filipacchi the latest media company to enact staff cuts? The U.S. branch of the French-based conglomerate, owner of Elle, Premiere and other titles, recently eliminated the receptionists from two of its floors. (The receptionists were outsourced, rather than direct employees of Hachette). Visitors to employees on the 40th and 41st floor, home to shelter titles like Elle Décor and Metropolitan Home, as well as Premiere, are now received on the 42nd floor, according to a staff memo circulated in early January. A spokeswoman for the company admitted the move is a “cost-cutting measure” but declined to comment on whether further cuts are in the works. Hachette’s U.S. operation named a new chief financial officer, Antoine de Noyer, in September. He’d previously worked for the group’s Milan subsidiary.
— Irin Carmon