Updated at 1:40 PM
Three and a half months after Philadelphia magazine ousted its editor following a retreat from publishing news online, the monthly glossy is laying off four staffers and ending a highly-trafficked section of the site covering the Philadelphia Eagles.
The latter part of news came to readers in a terse post this morning carrying no byline:
Philadelphia magazine is ceasing publication of new material on Birds 24/7, effective today. The archives will remain online.
We would like to thank the current editors, Josh Paunil and Brandon Gowton, for their hard work and dedication; we wish them well in their next endeavors. We’d also like to recognize the founding editors, Tim McManus and Sheil Kapadia, and the commenters, who made the channel a real community over the past four and a half years.
In addition to Paunil and Gowton, staff writers David Gambacorta and Jared Brey were laid off:
A Philly Mag staff writer who wished to remain anonymous shared the mood of the newsroom via email Thursday afternoon:
“The news earlier today was demoralizing. For me, it rang the death knell for hope and change at Philly Mag. A year ago, the hiring of Patrick Kerkstra as editor signaled a new direction for the publication — one that would grow more urban, more diverse and more reflective of this city. That vision has been steadily scaled back in the last six months, and the losses today of Jared Brey and David Gambacorta — two of the most talented reporters in the city, two of the best writers we had — sealed the deal on a full regression at Philly Mag. Philly Mag is hemorrhaging talent.
Every employee here accepts that running a profitable media company in 2016 is a gargantuan task. (And last year, ironically, Philly Mag was profitable.) But to change course so dramatically within the span of a calendar year makes for beyond a difficult working environment. There’s a collective feeling that strategic decisions are being made hastily and not transparently. There’s utter confusion about how, in any way, the company values its digital content, having axed — or redeployed — most of the writers responsible for online content. Philly Mag appears to be regressing back into an older iteration of itself, which is a print-first publication that caters to its wealthy, suburban readership. For many of us, this feels like an irresponsible shift in 2017.”
When reached via telephone by Billy Penn, David Lipson, president of both Philadelphia and Boston magazines, declined to expand on the reasons for the cutbacks beyond a note he sent to the staffs of both magazines today. That memo, which mentions merging design teams and an unspecified number of cuts to both newsrooms, is below.
To our staff:
As we continue to create first rate journalism that is distributed through various channels, produce the best lifestyle events in our markets and develop marketing solutions that meet and exceed client expectations, we are demonstrating how a media company can navigate the media business today. After a difficult 2015 we pulled off a strong financial turnaround in 2016 resulting in a profitable year. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their hard work and dedication to our company.
As the year came to an end, I had time to reflect on our business and decided it was time to establish new long term goals for Metrocorp. We must focus on creating sustainable growth and transform our organization to thrive in the long term. This will take considerable work and better prioritization of our resources.
Today I am announcing a business plan that calls for greater efficiency, a tightening of our editorial mission and the launch of an initiative to establish better operating standards and innovative advertising products. The plan includes the following:
We are merging our design teams in each city. Going forward, each city will operate with a single design team serving both editorial and sales/marketing in that market. The design of our brands is crucial, and we believe this change will make the look of products even more cohesive. Eric Mongeon will oversee our efforts in Boston, with team members Toan Trinh, Michele Snow, Tommy White and Joe DiIanni. Jamie Leary will lead our efforts in Philadelphia, with team members Alyse Moyer, Brandon McArdle, Roman King and Claudia Gavin.
We are reviewing other common services utilized in each city and we will adopt one common methodology and process that will apply to all our operations. These changes will allow us to operate more cohesively and adapt more quickly to changes in the market.
We are eliminating the Birds 24/7 channel in Philadelphia. Our Eagles coverage has generated a strong following among fans, but making a successful business out of it has been a challenge. While I believe we brought a new way to cover the Eagles (both founders of the blog have since been hired by ESPN), we re-energized our competition and now there is a glut of coverage.
In order to invest in areas for future growth and focus our efforts towards our most profitable product lines, we have completed a restructuring of our staff through a combination of attrition and the elimination of seven other positions across our company. Cutbacks like these are always difficult and painful, but they are necessary for the overall continued health of our company.
As previously announced, Kaitlyn David will move into the new role of director of content strategy for City Studio. Kaitlyn is a strong creative talent, and having her focus all of her energies on City Studio gives us an excellent building block in an exciting and growing part of our business.
The company’s leadership will meet in February for a retreat with the goal of establishing best practices and tools that increase our company’s efficiency and to refine our advertising products in an effort to bring simplicity and scale.
I will continue to update you with our progress at our Town Halls and invite you to meet with me if you wish. I feel confident that with the talent that we have in the company, our best days are ahead of us.