The new owner of Variety is laying off nearly 20 employees at the Hollywood trade paper while preparing to cut back on the number of times it prints each week.
The layoffs represent about 12% of Variety’s 165-person staff and come from departments including circulation, administration, conference planning, and the industry directories “LA411" and “NY411.” No reporters or editors are losing their jobs.
“For the past six months we have diligently reviewed every aspect of the Variety business [a]nd in more recent weeks we have outlined to Variety senior management an exciting and also aggressive trajectory for the brand’s resurgence,” Variety owner Jay Penske wrote in an email to staff posted on the Penske-owned site Deadline.com. “These steps will include substantial further investments in editorial and digital but will unfortunately require some immediate eliminations.”
Penske, the head of Penske Media, has recently engaged consultants, including former executives at magazine giant Time Inc., to consider how often Variety should release a print product. Currently Daily Variety comes out Monday through Friday, and weekly Variety is released once per week. Daily Variety is expected to cut back its printing schedule, though it’s not yet known by how much.
In addition, Penske Media has been reaching out to Hollywood executives to find out how often and in what medium they want to read Variety, according to a knowledgeable person who requested anonymity because the consultations are private.
Already, Penske has decided to take down the paywall on Variety’s website, which limits its readership compared to competing sites such as Deadline and HollywoodReporter.com. That change is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2013.