Time Inc. to Eliminate Nearly 300 Magazine Jobs

By Annys Shin and Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 19, 2007

Time Inc. announced yesterday that it is cutting its staff by nearly 300 people in a restructuring that dismantles much of the news-gathering operation founded by Henry Luce.

Employees at the publishing unit of Time Warner have been bracing for layoffs for at least a week. They were informed yesterday that a total of 289 positions were being eliminated company-wide through a combination of voluntary buyouts and mandatory layoffs.

Marquee publications such as Time magazine, Sports Illustrated and People magazine absorbed many of the cuts, as Time Inc. seeks to revamp itself for a digital age.

"The layoffs are about the restructuring of our editorial staffs as we move quickly into a future of flexible, multiplatform content creation," John Huey, Time Inc.'s editor in chief, e-mailed staff members yesterday.

Time magazine is closing its Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles bureaus, though it will keep three "laptop" correspondents in L.A. People is closing its Washington, Miami, Chicago and Austin bureaus, and plans to maintain regional coverage using seven newly created reporting positions, spokeswoman Sandi Shurgin said.

Time Inc. has been scaling back its workforce over the past year. Between December 2005 and December 2006, it eliminated 600 positions and is close to getting rid of 500 more with the impending sale of 18 smaller titles such as Parenting and Baby Talk.

"Our magazines continue to be some of the most popular and relevant titles on the newsstand today but progress brings change and we need to continue to evolve to meet the cost pressures and challenges presented by our rapidly shifting industry," Ann S. Moore, Time Inc. chairman and chief executive, e-mailed staff members yesterday.

Those who remain at Time Inc. will work at a news-gathering operation very different from the one Luce created at Time magazine in 1922, in which correspondents across the country sent feeds to writers in New York in a kind of caste system. Even though the magazine did not print writers' bylines until 1980, writers occupied the top tier. Below were reporters, whose work on the articles was acknowledged, if at all, in credit lines at the end. Below them were stringers deployed around the country, all funneling facts to the writers in New York.

Now, Time magazine is largely scrapping the system and hiring high-profile stylistic writers, such as Michael Kinsley, William Kristol and former Washington Post reporter and author David Von Drehle. It also moved its publication date to Friday.

To raise advertising profitability, the magazine is decreasing its rate base, or the circulation guaranteed to advertisers, from 4 million to 3.25 million, as a way of shearing off less-valuable circulation that costs more to deliver than it's worth. It also increased its cover price by $1 in November, to $4.95.

"In the time of Henry Luce, information wasn't dispersed as quickly. Now, everyone has turned into a news reporter," said Harold Vogel, president of Vogel Capital Management in New York. "It really is a different world, and these legacy businesses are going through a wrenching transition . . . they have to run the old business while building the new one."

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