The Economist Group will fire 90 non-editorial employees and shut down the print edition of its lifestyle magazine 1843. The magazine will become digital-only, executives said Friday.
“We have made the difficult decision to restructure and reduce roles in the parts of our business most affected by Covid-19,” Lauren Hackett, svp, global communications for The Economist Group told Adweek in a statement. “Each one of our departing colleagues has been instrumental in helping us build the business we have today and leaves with our heartfelt thanks and our promise to build on the legacy they leave behind.”
The layoffs represent a nearly 7% decrease in staff from The Economist Group’s previous 1,300-person workforce.
Editorial staffers have not been affected by the layoffs. The events team, client solutions group and TVC, the company’s marketing and communications agency did see cuts. Additionally, CEO Lara Boro, editor in chief Zanny Minton Beddoes and the rest of The Economist Group’s leadership team will take a pay cut.
Its magazine 1843 debuted as Intelligent Life in 2007 before rebranding in 2016. The bimonthly will end its print run and move to the web starting with the August/September issue. The shift to digital was discussed prior to the pandemic but was accelerated due to the economic turmoil.
The Economist Group is far from the only media entity struggling, but in a landscape with thinning margins and increasing revenues going to industry middlemen and platform companies, it’s a rocky road forward.
The British publishing company is not alone in mass-firing employees this week, joining Condé Nast, which fired 200 employees; Quartz, which fired 80; and BuzzFeed News, which shut down its entire U.K. and Australia operations in the last few days. Just this morning, Vice Media announced it would also lay off 155 employees in the United States and around the world. ViacomCBS, Protocol, G/O Media, Verizon Media, CQ Roll Call and Bustle Digital Group also fired troves of employees in recent months. BDG even shut down its website The Outline entirely.
Media companies have instituted pay cuts, furloughs and reduced hours in order to try and avoid layoffs, while some smaller companies have reported receiving Paycheck Protection Program assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
News publishers have struggled immensely due to declining advertising spend amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Advertisers are spending less, and keyword blacklisting has allowed media buyers to avoid running ads against Covid-19-related content entirely. Meanwhile, some publishers have made their coronavirus coverage free for readers due to the vital need for reliable information on the evolving crisis.
“Who said print was dead?” Adweek asked last year, citing 1843’s rebrand as one of many new print titles that had recently popped up. But under the strains of the pandemic and the economic fallout it has caused, 1843’s print days are, in fact, dead.