Welcome to Media Layoff Season

by The Awl

Olympic Provisions Butchery Class

It’s our least favorite time of year: media layoff season. And thanks to El Niño, the cyclical contraction of capital in publishing every few years, it’s going to especially brutal this year at newspapers and magazines.

Bloomberg layoffs began last month, which aimed to slice off a hundred or so employees. No one would be surprised if more follow as Michael Bloomberg continues to dismantle any hope of a post-terminal future for his company.

The Boston Globe’s Boston.com suffered cuts last month.

Nylon just lost a third of its staff.

The Philadelphia City Paper is being shut down on Thursday by Broad Street Media; its staff is being laid off and its archive potentially wiped from the internet.

At Condé Nast, we have heard that the optimizers hired by David Geithner are looking to create efficiencies worth tens of millions of dollars. How many fewer jobs is that? We don’t know, but if you do, let us know. (It is also probably worth remarking that Condé, like many corporations, has learned to blunt the edge on big layoffs by slowly and continuously laying people off, two or three or four per a publication at a time, throughout the year, as it has done at GQ, amongst others. And then there’s Lucky.)

ESPN is rumored to be laying off “‘200 to 300’ employees in the coming months.”

The New York Daily News was thoroughly gutted the other week.

Despite executive editor Dean Baquet’s triumphant note to readers today that “many news organizations, facing competition from digital outlets, have sharply reduced the size of their newsrooms and their investment in news gathering” — which, we’re about a year from last year’s announcement of a 7.5 percent reduction in newsroom staff — some New York Times staffers are convinced that layoffs, if tiny ones, are coming soon. (To Baquet’s credit, the Times does have a knack for initiating layoffs without actually cutting down its headcount.) Maybe these staffers are just shell-shocked and paranoid — for good reason, just look at that revenue chart — but who knows???

The LA Times is gearing up for a loss of up to a hundred newsroom employees, along with ten to twenty percent of its total staff. Given the turmoil at the home office and its focus on centralization, it would not be surprising if other Tribune papers were also hit with layoffs. (Update: The layoffs start this week.)

There were fears of layoffs before Time Inc.’s move downtown, in part because it was revealed that it can cut up to a third of its staff without losing millions in job retention grants. The move to open-office hell of Brookfield Place has begun, and it was profitable in its most recent quarter without notable layoffs, so maybe it’ll be spared? (Then again, it had a rough year already, so.) There’s always next season.

Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal did its culling over the summer, as did Meredith and Rolling Stone

. And at Hearst, where the magazines are in a constant, never-ending state of reorganization and consolidation, who could possibly tell if layoffs have happened, are happening, or might happen, except that it certainly seems like a lot of people aren’t around anymore?

Plenty of jobs at Vox, though.

Photo by Pat Castaldo

Obviously some of this is rumor and speculation (which we hope is wrong); corrections, more precise figures, a heads up about layoffs coming to a newsroom near you, and more welcome. Anonymity, if you want it, guaranteed.