UPDATED: The New York Magazine redefining deals with core staff

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UPDATED: The New York Magazine redefining deals with core staff

New York (NY) – Layoffs
due to the depressed economy aren’t just hitting hard the tech, financial
and automotive industries, but media companies as well. When the economy
is tough, many companies cut their advertising budgets – and that hurts the media
whose primary source of revenue is advertisers. Among a series
of layoffs and workforce cuts announced by various media and
entertainment organizations is the New York Magazine – and they’re currently
making headlines.

This time, however, the headlines they’re making aren’t exclusives, scoops on the next big thing or even a quality opinion piece that
the New York Magazine has always been famous for, but rather its own internal
problems and “redefined deals” that’s drawing the magazine up under the
spotlight. According to online reports, Ann Clarke, managing editor of
the privately-held New York Magazine, emailed their premium staff
writers with a following short notice: “We need to talk about your
redefined ‘deal.'”

Core staff apparently learned that redefining their employment status comes down to getting paid less for the same amount
of work. The paper’s spokesman Serena Torrey confirmed that the company
is cutting costs where it can, including employee salaries.

a private company, we don’t discuss details of revenues, salaries or
expenditures. It’s true that we’re cutting some costs where we can,
though the vast majority of those adjustments do not affect company
employees directly. Where we can find efficiencies in terms of
limiting, say, freelance labor or hours worked, or by renegotiating
deals, we’re certainly doing that.

The bad news didn’t come out of blue for the magazine, owned by Bruce Wasserstein. The New York Magazine has been particularly
hurt in the current economic climate since most of its advertising
revenue comes from premium advertisers that have cut their budgets
significantly. In addition, the industry as a whole suffered a 12 percent
decline in 2008.

Last August, in the heat of the Wall Street crisis, the magazine ran its first-ever ad cover wrap, a move that astounded
media watchers. Later last year, the magazine laid off a couple of
part-time hires, but it is now forced to renegotiate deals with its core
writers as well. According to sources, salary cuts are determined on
a per-employee basis, meaning each writer’s status and negotiating skills
will eventually determine his or her new salary.

UPDATED:  January 16, 2009 – 12:14pm CST
TG Daily initially incorrectly reported this as the New York Times, instead of New York Magazine.