New York Magazine, owned by New York Media, is laying off 16 full-time employees and another 16 part-time employees and freelancers, reports CNN Business. The cuts represent about 5 percent of total full-time staff and are the beginning of the magazine’s restructuring. Staff were notified Monday in a memo by New York Media chief executive Pam Wasserstein. The functions most impacted by the cuts include video, audience development, and copy and fact checking.
In her memo, which was published by Oliver Darcy of CNN on Twitter, Wasserstein explained the reason for the decision.
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“…we have grown and diversified our revenue by investing in promising initiatives, including affiliate ecommerce and our digital subscription production, while continuing to develop a differentiated advertising business. Though we fell short of our financial goals last year, we established a strong foundation for the business going forward and moved closer to reaching our full potential as a leading modern media company. As part of our long-term planning process, we took a hard look at our existing structure and roles in an effort to most effectively organize our resources around our business strategy,” Wasserstein said.
“I believe this restructuring is necessary to put us on the firmest possible footing as an independent company, though that does not make today any less painful,” added Wasserstein. “In some cases, the changes we are making reflect a need for new focus as we reflect an overdue integration of print and digital staffs.
These moves follow other significant changes at the magazine, including the November implementation of a metered paywall. According to The New York Times, the magazine had been working on the paywall idea for a year, but it took time to implement it. Subscribers can choose from two plans.
In December, staff asked editor-in-chief Adam Moss to voluntarily recognize a union they had formed under the NewsGuild of New York, reports WWD. The Guild said that nearly 80 percent of eligible employees at the magazine had signed up to be represented by the union. In the group’s mission statement, they highlighted wage and benefit concerns as well as corporate pressures. WWD reports that Moss responded with an email that said the company would work with the union and he hopes they can get to “voluntary recognition pretty soon.”
The NewsGuild of New York made a statement of support for New York Magazine staffers.
Following a six-month warning, in January, a 61-year-old Moss left the magazine where he had served as an editor for 15 years. In an interview with The New York Times, Moss said he wanted to see what a less ambitious life might look like.
“I’m older than the staff. I’m older than the readers. I just want to do something new,” Moss said.
It seems Moss may also have gotten tired of the corporate side of running a magazine.
“In a lot of ways, it doesn’t feel like the same publication or the same job,” Moss said. “I get reports back about what sold at what price point and all that stuff, and I think, ‘Wait, really, this is what I do for a living?’ You do spend less time worrying about getting a story right.”
While cuts at media organizations have been happening with regularity over the last decade, they continue to occur. In fact, more than 2,300 journalism jobs have been cut this year already. While 32 lost jobs don’t seem like a big deal, the cuts are indicative of a larger trend. Legacy media organizations that did not pivot quickly or deftly enough are in trouble. They are still scrambling to figure out how to make the digital model work for them, and when costs exceed revenue, jobs are often the first to go. Journalists and other newsroom staff understand this, and they are unionizing to protect themselves. In many cases, it is already too late and, when media organizations fail, we all lose.