Salon Lays Off 20% of Staff to Become “True Web Publication”


salonSalon laid off six of its 29 editorial staffers last week in an effort–according to CEO Richard Gingras’ statement to Gawker–to become “more of a true Web publication.” According to Gingras, the layoffs are tied to a fall relaunch of the site and a redesign of its backend CMS.

Here is the complete list of layoffs:

Jeanne Carstensen, managing editor
Kevin Berger, features editor
Katharine Mieszkowski, senior writer
Joy Press, culture editor
Caitlin Shamberg, multimedia editor
Julie Coburn, photo editor

“The Company’s operating forecast for the remainder of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010 anticipates continued operating losses,” says the statement accompanying Salon’s SEC filing. “Salon estimates it will require between $1.75 and $2.5 million in additional funding to meet its operating needs for the balance of its fiscal year.”

David Weir at BNET said, “You can see from the numbers culled from the SEC filing that new CEO Richard Gingras really had no option but to further cut costs, and at Salon, that primarily means the human costs of producing content.

Zeke Turner at Mediaite commented,

A look at the positions cut suggests that the emphasis will be on “sharp” and “fast” rather than “meticulously-edited”: According to Gingras, they let go 3 editors, 1 writer, a photo editor and a multimedia producer. Three editors – that loses a layer of work on a story, not the story itself. It is more complicated than that, obviously, but it seems clear that everyone at Salon will have to get leaner, better and faster with these changes.

Called the “cockroach of the web,” Salon has managed to survive all sorts of trials and tribulations since its 1995 launch, including leadership changes, declining revenues, and stagnating traffic. Yet it continues to publish valuable, relevant content, such as the previously unseen Abu Ghraib photos.

Weir said, “The current challenge for Salon is how to reinvent itself as a viable business and then re-grow its journalism around that new model. It’s the same challenge facing every media company that’s been around since the last century.”

Steven Tagle is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles, CA. He produces short-form documentaries for Current TV, and his work has appeared in Leland Quarterly, Word Choice, and Rainy Day. He is finishing his first novel. More from this author →