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NOT SO FAST: Though speculation about imminent magazine closures has quieted at Condé Nast Publications now that McKinsey & Co. has finished its consulting duties within 4 Times Square, that doesn’t mean they still couldn’t happen. According to several well-placed insiders, top management is considering closing some titles by the end of the year — a decision that is likely to be finalized after the current sessions on 2010 budgets. In meetings with Condé Nast chief operating officer John Bellando that started last week and are ongoing, editors and publishers are being given their budget targets for 2010 — with most being asked to cut them by an average of 25 percent. Each title also received packets of general cost-cutting recommendations from McKinsey, and now editors and publishers are strategizing about how to meet their new numbers, with everything from employee head count, freelance budgets, publishing schedules, travel and expenses, photo shoots and administrative costs being scrutinized. The process is not simply trimming large salaries from the mastheads — “they’re looking at rebuilding [their budgets] from scratch instead of [just] cutting it from the top,” said one source.
And even once titles submit their cost-cutting plans, sources said, that doesn’t mean all is complete. Top executives at the company could still decide to close titles as opposed to endure budget cuts so extreme that production quality would be jeopardized or advertising and circulation growth would be too difficult. Or, as earlier chatter indicated, management could opt for no closures at all and tough it out until the economy recovers. Regardless, the final plan for 2010 is expected to be decided upon within the next few weeks. A Condé Nast spokeswoman did not return an e-mail seeking comment.
— Stephanie D. Smith