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Publishers Weekly's editorial staff takes another hit

April 15, 2009 | 11:21 am

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Today is the last day for three editors at Publishers Weekly, the book industry trade magazine; their layoffs follow January cuts that sent five editorial staffers packing, including respected Editor in Chief Sara Nelson. The firings are part of a 7% across-the-board cut by parent company Reed Business Information, which also owns Variety. The movie industry trade magazine, which moved 20-year veteran Peter Bart out of the top editorial position earlier this month, fired 15 staffers this week.

The publishing industry may be smaller, but it's facing challenges that are even more complex than Hollywood's, what with questions of electronic publishing, e-readers, declining readership and inefficient models of distribution.

"The publishing industry needs an on- and offline forum where it can confer about strategy and direction," said Richard Nash, former publisher of Soft Skull Press. "But it doesn't appear as if [Publishers Weekly] is going to supply those needs."

With these layoffs, Publishers Weekly has lost some very Web-savvy staff, particularly associate editor Craig Teicher. He was a go-to guy for electronic publishing and the Web; as a bonus, he also covered poetry. Firing him, Nash says, "does seem like a counterproductive development." The staff cuts throw the company's commitment to new media into question.

Also departing are managing editor Robin Lenz, who has been at the magazine for more than two decades, and Dermot McEvoy, who managed the e-mail newsletter PW Daily.

In a Tuesday morning e-mail obtained by the Wrap, Reed Business Information Chief Executive Tad Smith wrote that the company "may need to make additional reductions to fit the business conditions,” and that remaining staff will be required “to take mandatory unpaid days off.”

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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