Time Inc. layoffs included advertiser-value consideration

  • Article by: RAVI SOMAIYA NEW YORK TIMES
  • Updated: August 18, 2014 - 9:07 PM

Time Inc. used 8 criteria in deciding layoffs at SI.

Sports Illustrated rated its journalists on whether their work benefited advertisers, according to an internal document from its parent company, Time Inc.

The criterion was one of eight used by the company in deciding which staff members to lay off. A spreadsheet that included traditional benchmarks like productivity and tenacity, as well as newer ones like social media and video, also listed whether the employee produced content “beneficial to advertiser relationship.” The spreadsheet, provided to the New York Times by the Newspaper Guild of New York, was first reported by the website Gawker.

“They should not be judging our people on criteria such as whether their reporting is friendly to advertisers or things of that nature,” said Anthony Napoli, a union representative, “or whether they are doing other things that aren’t part of their job.”

Napoli said his members were not told they would be assessed on anything but their journalism. The Guild, which also represents the Times’ editorial employees, has asked for further scrutiny of how Time Inc. assessed its unionized staff.

Time Inc., the country’s largest magazine company, was recently spun into an independent publicly traded company by its owner, Time Warner. As part of Time Inc.’s restructuring, it recently laid off 500 employees, and more layoffs are expected.

Joseph A. Ripp, the company’s new chief executive, has lowered the wall separating the business operations and the editorial side. He has argued that doing so was essential to increasing the company’s revenue, which has suffered in recent years.

In a statement, Sports Illustrated said the Guild’s interpretation was “misleading and takes one category out of context.” It said it compiled the spreadsheet when the Guild asked for more information on layoffs.

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