Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

New York Mag to Writers: You’re Keeping Your Jobs, Getting a Pay Cut

Media layoff stories are, depressingly, old hat by now (but be ready for more). Less common: tales of media companies asking their surviving employees to take pay cuts.

But that’s what New York Magazine, which laid off a few people at the end of last year, is doing with its core writing staff. Last week, managing editor Ann Clarke summoned the magazine’s staff writers one by one into her office: “We need to talk about your redefined ‘deal,’” read an ominous email she had sent out in advance.

The new definition, apparently, involves getting paid less. The cuts don’t appear to be the same amount for each writer; magazine spokeswoman Serena Torrey confirmed cost-cutting but wouldn’t elaborate:

As a private company, we don’t discuss details of revenues, salaries or expenditures. It’s true that we’re cutting some costs where we can, though the vast majority of those adjustments do not affect company employees directly. Where we can find efficiencies in terms of limiting, say, freelance labor or hours worked, or by renegotiating deals, we’re certainly doing that.

Given the economic climate, every responsible business is streamlining operations. We’ve been very successful because we’ve been an efficient, forward-looking company in the past, and we’ll continue to make careful decisions about the future to ensure our strength.”

All of which makes plenty of sense to me. New York Magazine owner Bruce Wasserstein may be a billionaire, but you can’t blame him for wanting to cut back–his industry shrank by 12 percent last year, and the high-end local ad market that New York depends on will be particularly fraught this year. And better, I suppose, to get paid less than to have no job at all.


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle