Post-Election News Business Layoffs Begin; Time and Current Lead the Charge

Well, they held out as long as the could. But now that the presidential election is over, layoffs in the news business have begun.

Newsosaur predicted as much on the Sunday before the election, and pointed to a major reason:

Public confidence in the mainstream media has been eroding for at least a decade.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that only 19% of respondents trusted their local newspapers in 2006, as compared with 29% in 1998. In the same period, trust in national newspapers slid to 21% from 32%, broadcast news fell to 22% from 27% and cable news slipped to 25% from 37%. Confidence in the National Enquirer, however, doubled to 6%.

Job losses announced at Time Inc., which went through a significant shrinkage just two years ago, and Al Gore's Current Media are among the first in what will almost certainly be a long line of similar reports in the coming months.

Here, from Ad Week, is a capsule of what's going down at Time:

.... Time Inc. is moving to the rank-and-file as it, like other publishers, seeks to reduce its workforce in the face of dropping ad revenue.

Some of Time Inc.’s biggest magazines have put out the call for at least 83 volunteers to take buyouts, according to memos and staffers at the company. The news comes as part of the company’s previously announced restructuring and plan to cut its headcount by about 600, or roughly 6 percent of the Time Inc.’s worldwide workforce of 10,200.

Sports Illustrated said it is looking for about 40 Newspaper Guild and non-guild volunteers from the editorial side. People is seeking 23 volunteers and Time magazine about 20. Fortune and Money are also looking for volunteers from guild members, but did not specify a number.

Volunteers are asked to come forth by Dec. 1 to avoid involuntary layoffs.

Other, non-Guild cuts are expected to be made throughout the company’s 24 U.S. titles today.

Here' a bit of what CNet reported on the situation at Current:

A source close to Current told CNET News on Tuesday that 20 percent of the staff has been cut, and that some of the layoffs will take place now and others in January. Current had announced less than a day ago that it had partnered with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to bring its network to Canada.

A statement from Current indicates that the number of employees cut is lower than the 20 percent that our source provided: "Approximately 60 positions have been eliminated in the company's three U.S. offices, and approximately 30 new positions created," the statement read. "Many of those whose positions were eliminated have been placed in the new positions. Current will have approximately 410 employees (after these staffing adjustments)."

..... "Not only was this uncalled for, but there was continuous deliberation during the last two or three months," the former employee said. "Every meeting we've had with the VP of our department has been a lot of 'Don't worry, your positions are secure.' And that has been repeated for the last two to three months."

..... (Just last week, Al Gore) gave a speech at the Web 2.0 Summit in which he touched upon how he hopes Current will solve some of the problems plaguing the television news industry.

Whatever problems Current intends to solve, it's evident that it plans to do so with fewer people.

Whether it's 30, 60 or 100 jobs lost, the irony of management at Al Gore's pet project fooling employees into thinking their positions are safe -- a classic complaint lodged against "evil corporations," should not be lost on anyone.

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.