We hear Forbes, the fussily conservative business magazine, is laying off Web and print staff today, and merging the surviving editors and writers into a single newsroom. It only took them a decade.
Peter Kafka, a former Forbes.com editor, reports that 19 have been laid off from both the print and online sides. Other sources give a breakdown: 17 from print, chiefly those with the longest tenure and hence the highest salaries; and 2 from the Web, both recent hires.
Forbes and Forbes.com have been run separately since the late '90s, when the Forbes family hoped to make some quick cash by spinning out the dotcom in an IPO. The public offering never happened, but Forbes Media's split has persisted, exacerbated by turf wars and infighting. (Forbes.com did not want Dan Lyons, the magazine writer who turned into a superstar blogger as Fake Steve Jobs, to write for the website; he left for Newsweek last year.)
Plans to merge the two feuding operations first leaked in October. In November, the company, which is now part owned by the Forbes family and part owned by Elevation Partners, the private equity firm which counts U2 rock star Bono as a member, conceded in a memo to employees that a merger was afoot, and that decisions on cuts would be made in January.
It is a comedown for the magazine, especially. We have heard, but not yet confirmed, that the list-happy title has lost most of its junior reporters who served as factcheckers. And the print team, we're told, may move from its 60 Fifth Avenue headquarters to Forbes.com's dumpier newsroom at 90 Fifth Avenue, perhaps so Forbes Media can unload the more valuable real estate. (Not that it's a good time to sell Manhattan office space, which is likely why the move is still undecided.)