Streamlining Time magazine and some of its sister publications is expected to cost a lot of jobs.
At least 150 employees are expected to receive their "pink slips" – or dismissal notices this week. All part of a major effort to cut costs. Half of those being laid off are journalists.
The lay-offs are part of a major plan that includes re-working – and hopefully revitalizing – America's leading news weekly. The cuts come on the heels of a similar cutback last year in which more than 600 workers, mostly on the business side, were laid off.
To hopefully solve the dilemma, it was decided to make some major changes at the company's flagship, the almost 90-year-old Time magazine. First, publication date was moved forward – to Friday from Monday – hopefully to catch a weekend news-hungry audience.. and of course get coverage on weekend television.
But the biggest change is in the number of journalists assigned to any one story. In the past it has been as many as seven or eight. In future it will be two – a reporter and perhaps a fact-checker or sub editor. More on the lines of British magazines and newspapers.
Simultaneously Time is planning to shut down some of its bureaus, including Paris. Instead Time is planning to appoint a number of what it calls laptop correspondents who will work from home. Altogether, according to the NY Times, Time Inc has nearly 11.000 employees world wide – many these days involved in its web site. Their fate is uncertain.
Last year Time Inc folded Teen People because ads were down – but kept its website alive. An indication of how much Time Inc is banking on the future of the web. Many of Time Inc's publications rank highly on-line, particularly with celebrity and financial news. And of course sports coverage. At Sports Illustrated, for example, its digital site brings in 13 per cent of its profits – and are expected to be even higher this year. .
So what's the future? Henry Luce who started Time 84 years ago is probably, according to one company executive, already spinning in his grave. He envisioned Time as a news magazine, today it is heading towards becoming a feature publication.
As some experts have put it: Time may still have four million readers – but it lacks the status it once had. Even its covers are no longer regarded as having that much impact.
What's next? There have been denials that a some of the magazine's editorial work will be moved overseas – to India perhaps The very idea has sent shivers through the newsroom.
One thing unlikely to ever change, it's insisted, is the red mast-head on the cover. That is considered inviolate – by some anyway.