The media recession may be gradually lifting, according to Rupert Murdoch and Janet Robinson, but that doesn't mean everyone with a publishing job is going to make it to the other side. Forbes Inc. embarked on a fresh round of layoffs this week, and employees at Time Inc., the world's biggest magazine company, are expecting to get similar news any day now.
The downsizing at Forbes comes just six months after the company eliminated a reported 50 jobs and treated remaining workers to pay cuts, furloughs and a suspension of 401(k) contributions. All told, it's the fourth round of cuts in a year. So far, the only employees let go have been on the business side; editorial layoffs are slated to come down on Wednesday. A Forbes spokeswoman declined to comment on details of the restructuring, but WebMediaBrands CEO Alan Meckler says 30 staffers are out of jobs.
Meckler also predicts that Forbes will reduce its publishing frequency, following the lead of Fortune, which is reducing its number of issues per year from 25 to 18. But a Forbes veteran with intimate knowledge of the company's business model predicts the magazine will retain its biweekly frequency and instead lower its rate base, or guaranteed circulation minimum, currently set at 900,000. (American magazine publishers generally lose money on the circulation side in hopes of making it back on ad sales.) Adds the veteran, "That family makes choices in a very thoughtful way, and it's got to be be killing them to do this."
At Time Inc., autumn layoffs are becoming something of an annual tradition. Last year, the publisher shed some 600 jobs in the fourth quarter. One high-level source at the company predicted that this year's cuts won't be as deep -- at least not across the board. But at least one magazine is planning job reductions as deep as last year's, according to a source there. As happened last year, employees will first be asked to volunteer to take buyout packages; if enough volunteers can't be found, layoffs will come into play.
Time Inc. is part of Time Warner, the same conglomerate that owns DailyFinance parent AOL, although Time Warner plans to spin off AOL later this year.
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