Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

More Media Layoff/Shutdown Roundup: Time Inc., Forbes, NBC Universal, IAC

If you had any romantic notion that the beginning of holiday season meant an end to media layoff season, think again. In addition to the 850 Viacom (VIA) workers who are getting pink-slipped, this looks to be a particularly bad few days at Time Warner’s (TWX) Time Inc., where many of the titles that asked workers to quit last month will now be firing them instead.

The New York Post’s Keith Kelly has already reported that layoffs are in motion at People, Time and Sports Illustrated over the next few days; I am told that cuts are also coming to Fortune magazine today or tomorrow. Here’s a Sports Illustrated employee’s take on the situation there:

We are all expecting the hatchet Thursday or Friday. Morale is dismal. One colleague of mine, uber golf writer John Garrity, told several of us that he’s taking the package but will continue on for a while as a special contributor. We expect two or three photo editors to go, and two or three members of the Sport’s Illustrated Latino staff (the Spanish language SI publication, which posted a net profit of approx. one million in ’07 and broke even in ’08, was inexplicably shuttered). Also photographers are rumored to be being cut to half time service and members of our copy desk have been asked to take up to a 30% pay reduction for which they will work fewer hours. Charlie Leerhsen, one of our two executive editors, told a few staff members that he was going to be leaving.”

In other layoff/shutdown news:

  • I am told that Forbes (where I worked for many years), is in the final stages of planning cuts as it prepares to merge the editorial operations of its magazine and Web site units. Last month the company began integrating its business groups and laid off about three dozen people in the process.
  • GE’s (GE) NBC Universal has laid off at least 30 people in its sales group, reports AdAge. The cuts are part of a previously reported mandate from NBC CEO Jeff Zucker to cut three percent of the company’s budget. The Post says another 80 people could be fired at CNBC.
  • Barry Diller’s IAC (IACI) is breaking up its programming group, which includes ventures like College Humor, and Tina Brown’s Some but not all of the sites will be closed down or sold off. PaidContent has details.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work