Last Wednesday was a dark day in journalism land. As expected, Time Inc. hemorrhaged six percent of its global workforce, leaving about 500 researchers, reporters, editors and designers out in the cold. The reason for the bloodbath is clear–change or die. Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang stated it clearly in a memo to the company’s 8,000 employees. “With the significant and ongoing changes in our industry, we must continue to transform our company into one that is leaner, more nimble and more innately multi-platform.”
At several of the magazines, heads rolled at the top. Ellen Kunes, editor in chief of Health Magazine, received a pink slip, as did Real Simple publisher Sally Preston who had been on the job for less than a year. At Essence, two vets, beauty director Corryne Corbett (formerly of Real Simple) and creative director Greg Monfries (who came from People), were sent packing. The bottom line, reports the NY Post: trim $100 million to offset declines in advertising revenue.
Time Inc. wasn’t the only media company slicing and dicing its staff. After lay offs loomed at the New York Times, executive editor Jill Abramson managed to wrangle enough voluntary buy outs to avoid a major bloodletting. But several highly regarded staffers were lost in the shuffle. Culture editor Jonathan Landman, a hero in the Jayson Blair scandal when he famously declared in a memo “We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now” accepted a package, as did Joe Sexton, who was responsible for the recent eye-popping avalanche project which produced 3.5 million page views last month. So what does it mean for you and others who want to enter the profession? Sharpen your digital story telling skills! Companies like Time Inc. need you. According to this scathing critique on the website Wall Street 24/7 a loss of imagination is responsible for the company’s woes. Mark Golin, the former editor of Maxim, is Time Inc.’s digital rainmaker. Sounds like he could use some help.