Sunday, November 1, 2009

And the Latest in the Sucks-to-Be-You Series of Layoff Announcements: Time Warner Plans Big

Time Warner is announcing a $100 million charge it's prepared to take next week to cover the costs associated with a round of layoffs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal says the layoffs will affect about 6 percent of Time's total workforce, "a similar percentage to job cuts last year, as part of a broad reorganization of Time Inc. Time Warner took a charge of $119 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 to reflect severance and other costs from the restructuring." That seems like a lot of money, but when you figure that approximately 3 billion people are directly employed by the sprawling Time Warner colossus, it's probably a small amount then. It's good to have things in perspective.

Seriously, though, despite news that the recession officially ended in the July-to-September third quarter of 2009, the layoffs in the magazine media industry seem to be coming more frequently. And the announcements these days are coming from the big guys -- Time Warner, Forbes, Condé Nast, etc. I suspect that's because the smaller companies never staffed-up as much as they could have in the good times, and they pared costs more quickly as the bad times set in. The behemoths move slowly. But this seems like an odd time for the big guys to be slicing staff. If things are improving, they're going to be without experienced staff, and when content is what counts, they're going to be scrambling to provide high-quality content from freelancers and junior staffers. After all, magazine readership has risen -- yes, risen -- in the past decade, not fallen off a cliff, so this seems a bit odd. But maybe that's how MBAs think.

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