Lesser of Two Evils: Media Companies Explore Alternatives to Laying Off

soup liggne.jpgNot that long ago news that major media companies were mandating unpaid weeks off and significant salary cuts would have been greeted with outrage. These days, while not great news, one is tempted to breathe a sigh of relief: it’s better than being laid off! And it certainly seems like more companies are trying to figure out ways to avoid just that.

AllThingsD is reporting that New York is cutting the salaries of its writers. Says NYMag spokesperson Serena Torrey “Where we can find efficiencies in terms of limiting, say, freelance labor or hours worked, or by renegotiating deals, we’re certainly doing that.” Gawker is speculating that the cuts may be as much as 15%, though it will vary per writer. In somewhat related news Kurt Anderson has penned his last column for the magazine, due to his “busy schedule,” though he will still contribute periodically.

Meanwhile Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher, is requiring all of its 30,000 employees to take an unpaid week off as a way to avoid laying off.

A second memo to Gannett employees says that some categories of “essential employees” will be exempted from the enforced time off, as will newly hired employees, but it adds, “there will be no individual hardship exceptions.” It also says that to comply with federal and state labor laws, a furloughed employee must strictly observe a no-work rule, not even “reading or responding to e-mails, calling or responding to calls from colleagues.”

That second part actually sounds like a bit of a silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud.