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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.
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