Granted, the headline number is a shocker: 600 people losing their jobs starting two weeks from now at Time Inc. The cuts, reported this evening by the Times, will further hurt morale among magazine workers who once had the nearest thing to lifetime employment in American journalism. But put in proper perspective, the cuts look less draconian than one might have speculated after rumors started circulating earlier this month. For an organization with 10,200 staff, the layoffs amount to six percent of the workforce — a shave rather than an amputation, by the standards of endemic newspaper layoffs and the Great Magazine Die-Off. And they should come as no shock: Time Inc. has been contracting for years now.
- In a round of cuts from December 2005 through April 2006, Time Inc. laid off close to 450 staffers.
- In January 2007, the company cut close to 250 staff. Time lost its Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta bureaus.
- Life magazine was (re-)closed in March 2007.
- Business 2.0 shut in September 2007.
- By the end of 2007, the layoff tally under CEO Ann Moore (pictured) was up to 1,000 people, according to the Post's Keith Kelly, since Moore's 2002 start.
None of the 24 existing titles are being lost. Staff will increasingly have to write for multiple titles, and, inevitably, shift their focus away from print to other "platforms." If Time Inc's new Web strategy runs any deeper than that, and one hopes it does, details are not yet forthcoming.
Not to say the changes, which include more centralization of management across titles, will be easy. On cursory examination, this appears to be TIme Inc.'s biggest single round of layoffs since at least 2002.
UPDATE: Keith Kelly at the Post quotes a source who said Time Inc. CFO Howard Averill is "the big winner in all this," since reporting to him are three new magazine clusters (news, style, entertainment).
He also notes the resignation/symbolic departure of Time publisher Ed McCarrick, a 35-year veteran and "old-school publisher whose career was built on relationships with ad agency executives, fostered on the golf course and over steak dinners and two-martini lunches of a bygone era."