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article imageStaff Cuts at Worth Magazine Reflect Clutter As Well As Economy

By Michael Krebs     Feb 28, 2009 in Business
The luxury magazine, Worth, is the latest to announce significant cutbacks in staff - and parent company, Sandow Media, cites the recession. But it may also be a matter of too many similar titles covering too much of the same content.
NEW YORK - Citing the advertising recession, particularly among the luxury and financial sectors of interest to Worth magazine, Sandow Media announced a 45 percent staff reduction in the New York office of Worth and the intention of basing its operations more centrally in the company's Boca Raton, Florida headquarters - far away from the financial and luxury sectors to which the magazine caters.
In a telephone interview with Reuters, Scott Yablon, Sandow's chief financial officer said, "Like every other publisher, we are looking at ways to improve margins and get through this very difficult economy."
But in 2002, well before the seeds of the current recession were even germinating, BNET, the business network of CBS' CNET operation, reported of an "exodus" at Worth Magazine.
BNET wrote, "In the past several months, Worth magazine has been losing more than ad pages. Since April, seven top staffers have fled the publication, including editor-in-chief John Koten and publisher Jim McCabe. One former staffer blames the exodus on the bad economy and budget constraints, saying the independent publisher is struggling to make ends meet. But CEO Randy Jones is reportedly exerting more control over the edit, and this, according to some, is the reason people are jumping ship."
Fast forward to 2009, and a shaky advertising climate is hitting the publisher more fiercely than it was 7 years ago.
But there is another question that may be worthy of exploration. Are publishers like Worth operating in an environment that is far too cluttered? Consider a sampling of titles in Worth's competitive set:
Robb Report
Portfolio
Vanity Fair
Architectural Digest
Flaunt
Fortune
Forbes
Posh
In a recession as toothy as this one appears to be, Worth may be experiencing a commercial Darwinism that - as brutal as it may be to Sandow Media - is reflective of something bigger than that which immediately meets the eye.
Sandow Media alone has five titles dedicated to luxury lifestyle content, but Yablon insists, "It is the financial sector. That financial sector I think has been hit probably the hardest of them all. We are actually projecting growth in all of our other publications."
Alison Parks, the general manager of Worth magazine, had told Reuters only a month ago that there were no plans for layoffs. The announcement to cut back to a skeleton crew in New York is a remarkable reversal from her January commentary.
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