City Magazine Layoffs Real, Widespread

Tuesday afternoon we asked about rumored layoffs at Niche Media, publisher of socialite city magazines. From what we've heard since, it sounds like the bloodletting does, indeed, go well beyond Philadelphia Style and is in fact related to the Wall Street meltdown and advertising recession. "Top management is on it's way to Miami to repeat the same," one tipster writes. "Slash up the staff at Ocean Drive." Another writes, "There were more layoffs on Monday at [DC-based] Capitol File. The senior editor and two sales reps were let go." It should come as little surprise that plummeting real estate values and stock market contraction should sharply curb the number of people who think of themselves as affluent, and who thus read these sorts of magazines, particularly in recently fast-growing cities like Miami and DC. CEO Jason Binn made things worse by expanding to aggressively, one tipster claims:

It was always the plan, although not announced to the Philadelphia people when Niche bought Philadelphia Style, to have ALL the editorial content done in NYC. If the Philly staff believed their jobs were safe, it was wishful thinking. It was ALL the Niche art staff was complaining about earlier in the year.

Given the amount of [merger partner] Greenspun [Media Group]'s money Niche was spending on new staff (especially the new group managing editor Pam McNally, of the defunct Hachette custom publishing division, brought in so the feckless Haley Binn didn't have to actually work on the growing number of titles and staff); decent raises for the existing staff 10 months ago; expensive startups in addition to acquiring Philadelphia Style (notably Chicago's Michigan Avenue); huge and expensive new offices downtown at 100 Church Street; Jason Binn walking away $20 million on the Greenspun deal (god knows how much was made by Jerry Powers, an original Binn partner down in Florida on Ocean Drive). Combined with the current economic downturn and the already weak magazine environment, talk of trouble in Binnland should come as no surprise. Most of the titles were upped an additional issue this year, when last year they had a hard time selling the existing numbers of issues they were already publishing.