What’s the difference between a Web magazine and a Web publication? We’re not exactly sure, either. But apparently Web magazines harbor bloated staffs, and before they can transform, butterfly-wise, into Web publications they have to give a few beloved staffers the axe — at least, if the caterpillar in question isSalon.
Salon has laid off six of its 29 editorial staffers — 20% — in response to the economic climate but also in preparation for a redesign this fall, according to a post by Gawker’s John Cook yesterday.
“We are moving away from a very traditional magazine production model and becoming more of a true Web publication,” Richard Gingras, CEO of Salon Media, said in a statement.
Huh? Cook called Salon, which has remained largely the same since it was founded in 1995, “the cockroach of the web,” having survived so many generations of Web innovation and refashioning. So now they’re becoming a true Web publication? Layoffs are layoffs. It’s a challenging time. That’s a good enough reason without corporate double-speak that doesn’t make any sense.
More than that, it’s apparently very necessary. David Weir at BNET read Salon’s latest SEC filing, and didn’t like it:
“The Company’s operating forecast for the remainder of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010 anticipates continued operating losses,” says the statement accompanying the financial results. “Salon estimates it will require between $1.75 and $2.5 million in additional funding to meet its operating needs for the balance of its fiscal year.”
I’m always saddened when hearing of yet more layoffs in our industry, one that has already been so pummeled for so long that there seems no light at the end of the tunnel. But, you can see from the numbers culled from the SEC filing that new CEO Richard Gingras really had no option but to further cut costs, and at Salon, that primarily means the human costs of producing content.
In Gringas’ statement he said that “[t]he financial changes emphasize what we do best — publish sharp, fast takes on the important events in the world, as well as the in-depth stories, reviews and blogs that readers come to us for” and said that Salon’s tradition of “great writing from great writers…will continue.” A look at the positions cut suggests that the emphasis will be on “sharp” and “fast” rather than “meticulously-edited”: According to Gringas, they let go 3 editors, 1 writer, a photo editor and a multimedia producer. Three editors – that loses a layer of work on a story, not the story itself. It is more complicated than that, obviously, but it seems clear that everyone at Salon will have to get leaner, better and faster with these changes. Joining an ever-growing media club.
The last round of Salon lay-offs to make news came last November as reporting on the presidential election was beginning to wind down. “I feel like a Civil War general who has had eight horses shot out from under him, yet remains eager to saddle up again,” wrote then-Washington bureau chief Walter Shapiro in response to his dismissal. Before that, editor-in-chief Joan Walsh said that site hadn’t cut staff since 2001.
Salon Lays Off Six In Pursuit of Becoming a ‘True Web Publication’ [Gawker]
The Numbers Behind Salon’s Layoffs [BNET]