Dotdash Meredith’s transfer to chop 200 jobs, stop some print publications is about embracing digital future, CEO says

Two months after Dotdash acquired venerable Des Moines magazine publisher Meredith Corp., the shakeup is starting.

Dotdash Meredith CEO Neil Vogel informed workers Wednesday morning that the corporate will finish the print editions of six of the previous firm’s magazines: EatingWell, Leisure Weekly, Well being, InStyle, Mother and father and Individuals en Español.

The transfer, which resulted in 200 layoffs, is the primary of the adjustments Vogel promised after his firm, New York-based digital writer Dotdash, purchased Meredith for $2.7 billion. When the businesses introduced the merger in October, Vogel defined that the brand new enterprise would mix Dotdash’s method, geared to on-line searches, with legacy Meredith’s decades-old family names, reminiscent of Higher Properties and Gardens.

Shopping for Meredith was about shopping for manufacturers, not magazines or web sites,” Vogel wrote in his e-mail to workers. “It isn’t information to anybody that there was a pronounced shift in readership and promoting from print to digital, and consequently, for a number of necessary manufacturers, print is not serving the model’s core goal.”

Firm spokesperson Erica Jensen informed the Des Moines Register in an e-mail that the majority job cuts occurred within the firm’s New York places of work. She mentioned Dotdash Meredith laid off “roughly 3% of our native Des Moines workforce.” With about 870 workers in Des Moines as of November, the cuts would equate to about 26 native jobs.

Neil Vogel, the CEO of Dotdash Meredith, is proven on the firm’s Des Moines places of work, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

“These workers have helped create among the finest media manufacturers on the planet,” Jensen mentioned. “We thank them for his or her years of dedication and are dedicated to serving to them make a clean transition. Dotdash Meredith stays dedicated to and invested within the Des Moines neighborhood in addition to the Metropolis as a key operational hub as we proceed to develop.”

Extra: As new CEO of Dotdash Meredith, Neil Vogel trusts ‘The Process,’ promises ‘changing and changing and changing’

Dotdash Meredith is a part of billionaire Barry Diller’s publicly traded tech incubator, IAC/Interactive Corp. Earlier than the merger with Meredith, Dotdash had grown rapidly during the last 5 years by publishing articles on its websites, reminiscent of The Spruce and Brides, designed to draw readers by means of web searches — Google, largely.

The corporate invests closely in pc analytics to find out what info individuals are searching for out on-line. Editors typically assign articles to reply these particular questions.

The Meredith Corporation downtown Des Moines campus on Monday, Sep. 27, 2021.

The Meredith Company downtown Des Moines campus on Monday, Sep. 27, 2021.

Vogel, who constructed Dotdash utilizing content material from IAC’s former web site, has mentioned he needs to freshen legacy Meredith titles, which embrace Individuals, Southern Residing and Journey + Leisure. He has mentioned the brand new firm ought to be one of many largest media companies within the nation, a sexy lure for advertisers.

Vogel has signaled for the reason that merger was introduced that some print merchandise had been more likely to fold.

“We’re not the blokes which might be going to vary the secular promoting decline on print,” Vogel mentioned throughout a Nov. 5 IAC earnings name.

Extra: Meredith Corp. walks back communication about job losses in pending Dotdash sale

On the identical time, he informed buyers, “Their magazines are beloved, and so they’re unimaginable.” Days after the merger went by means of in December, Vogel informed the workers that he deliberate to assist the print publications.

Vogel reiterated that in his e-mail to workers Wednesday. He mentioned Dotdash Meredith will make investments $80 million in enhancing content material this yr, and has 100 new positions to fill. Amongst different adjustments, he mentioned the corporate needs to enhance the standard of the magazines’ paper.

Extra: Top Meredith Corp. executives out after company’s sale brings them big payday

“As we speak’s step just isn’t a cost-savings train,” he wrote, “and it is not about capturing synergies or every other acquisition jargon, it’s about embracing the inevitable digital future for the affected manufacturers.”

However Wednesday’s announcement confirmed that the Dotdash and Meredith cultures don’t match seamlessly, a worry that many legacy Meredith workers have held for the reason that deal was introduced, mentioned Leisure Weekly Senior Editor Seija Rankin.

She mentioned workers have fearful that the search-engine-focused Dotdash workforce would steer Leisure Weekly away from the writing that loyal readers love. She did not see how among the title’s staples, reminiscent of ebook opinions and cultural criticism, would match the corporate’s mannequin.

“Possibly print’s not as profitable because it was,” she mentioned. “But when that’s all they’re utilizing within the equation, they’ve completely misplaced the plot. As we speak simply sort of appears like a extremely stark reminder within the distinction in outlook of people who find themselves attempting to fill the underside line and individuals who care about artwork and tradition and criticism.”

Rankin, who was not among the many 17 staffers laid off at Leisure Weekly, mentioned the workers acquired a message Wednesday morning asking them to attend two Zoom conferences. California-based workers who had been laid off attended a gathering at 8 a.m., Pacific Time. The remainder of the workers attended a separate assembly quarter-hour later.

Rankin mentioned Leah Wyar, president of the Dotdash Meredith leisure group, didn’t take questions after telling the workers in regards to the cuts. Rankin estimated the assembly lasted 90 seconds.

The NewsGuild of New York, which represents Leisure Weekly’s workers, will cut price over the laid-off employees’ severance bundle. Rankin mentioned she suspects employees can have some leverage, because the workers wants to complete its April publication, the final one scheduled, by the top of subsequent week. She mentioned the present workers does not have the experience to substitute for among the laid-off staffers, together with 4 designers and the publication’s lone full-time truth checker.

Past the print publication, although, Rankin questioned how the cuts match with the corporate’s technique to develop Leisure Weekly’s digital product. A few of Wednesday’s cuts had been internet-focused staffers, together with digital-only writers, a designer for on-line covers and the top of podcasts.

“Now we have to determine, ‘Who’s going to publish digital covers now?'” Rankin mentioned. “‘Who’s going to assist us tape the podcasts?’ I think about I will not have anything to do that week. None of us know what to do.”

She mentioned Dotdash Meredith executives defined throughout a latest workers assembly that they view Leisure Weekly’s opponents as information-heavy websites like Wikipedia and IMDB. Earlier than, the workers considered established shiny magazines like Vainness Honest as their opponents.

She wonders if the corporate will attempt to attract readers in search of an inventory of an actor’s movie credit, versus opinions and essays.

“If left to our personal units, if we’re allowed to be in command of it ourselves, I really feel actually good in regards to the soul (of Leisure Weekly) remaining,” Rankin mentioned. “However that being mentioned, I don’t be ok with being supported from on excessive. I don’t know what to consider how we’re going to be supported and what sort of guidelines and codecs we’re going to be underneath. There appears to be a variety of questions.”

Information Guild of New York President Susan DeCarava criticized Dotdash Meredith for “not investing in its employees and as an alternative defining its progress as a purely monetary enterprise, targeted on clicks, charges, numbers, and viewers.”

“Shedding the workers that made these publications what they’re at the moment undermines the way forward for the corporate,” DeCaravasaid. “We hope Dotdash Meredith will work with us on the bargaining desk to make sure a greater future for its employees.”

As of June, a lot of the magazines ceasing print publication had at the least 1 million subscribers:

  • Mother and father: 2.2 million.

  • EatingWell: 1.8 million.

  • InStyle: 1.7 million.

  • Leisure Weekly: 1.5 million.

  • Well being: 1.4 million.

  • Individuals en Español: 500,000.

Tyler Jett covers jobs and the economic system for the Des Moines Register. Attain him at [email protected], 515-284-8215, or on Twitter at @LetsJett.

This text initially appeared on Des Moines Register: Dotdash Meredith shakeup is about magazines’ digital future, CEO says

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