SBD/August 19, 2014/Media

SI Reportedly Used Writers' Advertiser Friendliness In Determining Layoffs

An internal document shows SI rated its writers "on whether their work benefited advertisers" as one part of eight criterion used "in deciding which staff members to lay off," according to Ravi Somaiya of the N.Y. TIMES. A spreadsheet that included "traditional benchmarks like productivity and tenacity, as well as newer ones like social media and video, also listed whether the employee was 'beneficial to advertiser relationship.'" Time Inc. COO Joe Ripp has "lowered the wall separating the business operations and the editorial side." He argued doing so "was essential to increasing the company's revenue, which has suffered in recent years" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19). GAWKER's Hamilton Nolan reported the Newspaper Guild of N.Y. in a letter to Time Inc. indicated that four "writer-editors were laid off 'out of seniority order' based on the rankings in the spreadsheet." SI Senior VP/Communications & Brand Development Scott Novak in a statement said, "The Guild's interpretation is misleading and takes one category out of context. The SI.com evaluation was conducted in response to the Guild's requirement for our rationale for out of seniority layoffs. As such, it encompasses all of the natural considerations for digital media. It starts and ends with journalistic expertise, while including reach across all platforms and appeal to the marketplace. SI's editorial content is uncompromised and speaks for itself" (GAWKER.com, 8/18).
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