Newsweek Staffers Return To The Office After Sandy To Face The Next Storm of Job Cuts

4798Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, called her minions together in the newsroom yesterday for a 5 p.m. champagne toast.

Tina Brown. Photo: paidContent.
It was, according to a source, meant as a token of appreciation for the hard work of the staff through Hurricane Sandy, the elections, and her publications' inaugural Hero Summit last week in D.C.--it had all been a slog.

Life in the newsroom had only just started to look normal again. It was only the day before that most employees of the sister titles, which merged in the beginning of 2011, had finally been able to return to their desks after being displaced for more than three weeks while their Frank Gehry-designed headquarters that loom over the West Side Highway like a spaceship recovered from flooding and electrical damage brought on by the storm.

But all the chaos had simply put off the next round of misery at NewsBeast. Before Sandy was even a wave rippling through the southwestern Caribbean, it had been announced there would be "staff reductions" as a result of Newsweek ceasing print operations at the end of the year, after which it will be reinvented as a digital-only title called Newsweek Global. It's a milestone that will mark the end of one of the most venerable print magazines in the history of American journalism still publishing. It's also a sober manifestation of the industry's troubles: a frigid print-advertising climate that has hastened the demise of once lucrative paper platforms while ushering in leaner online and mobile models that tend to be more difficult to monetize, yet require more time and effort on the parts of their content creators.

Practically, though, Newsweek's decision to go all digital means that a bunch of people are going to lose their jobs--a familiar scenario to anyone who's worked at a newspaper or magazine over the past five years, and one with which Newsweek staffers have already grappled twice since the magazine was sold by longtime owner The Washington Post Company a little more than two years ago.

"With Sandy and the election and the Hero Summit, everyone has been so distracted," said one insider. "But now that we're all back, everyone will start thinking" about the anticipated layoffs.

Several high-profile staffers have already jumped off the ship, including Rebecca Dana, Peter J. Boyer and Kate Aurthur. Those that remain are left wondering who will still be getting a paycheck in another month or so.

None of the current or former NewsBeast staffers Capital spoke with for this article had any knowledge of the scope or timing of the cuts, and a spokesperson for the Newsweek-Daily Beast Company declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing personnel matters. Barry Diller, chairman of NewsBeast's parent company, I.A.C., suggested on an earnings call several weeks ago that the reductions would be as "spare" as possible.

Source: Capital New York | JOE POMPEO
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