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D Empire Shrinks By 19 Percent

Monday was a tough day at D Magazine. Our company began a round of layoffs and salary reductions that is just now reaching its conclusion. The painful process forced us to shutter our blogs over the weekend and through most of today.

When I came to work for this company in early 2002, we published one magazine and had about 35 employees. As of last week, we were publishing 20 magazines (D Magazine, D Home, D CEO, D Beauty, D Weddings, and other specialty and custom magazines). Our newspaper division published six community newspapers under the People title (Park Cities People, Preston Hollow People, Oak Cliff People, Lake Highlands People, Lakewood People, and West Plano People). All together, 155 people worked for our organization. After all that growth, we’ve had to retrench.

Our readership numbers remain as strong as ever, but like every other publishing concern in the country, we’ve seen our ad revenue shrink. For detailed analysis of how this has happened, Google the phrase “global economic crisis” or, simply, “retail sales.”

We had to get leaner to thrive in this new business environment. On Friday, we began the process of letting go 14 people on the magazine side and 15 on the newspaper side, for a total of 19 percent of the 155 people who worked here. Those who remain have taken pay cuts. (No one who contributes to this blog was laid off.) We’ve also shuttered three newspapers: Lake Highlands People, Lakewood People, and West Plano People. Our remaining newspapers and all our magazines remain profitable.

As I say, the process began Friday, but it didn’t end until a few minutes ago. On Friday, that created a problem. Because, as most of you know, the FrontBurner Nation is nothing if not well-informed and alert. And eager to share. Our comments section began to spread news that some even in our company didn’t know yet. In deference to our co-workers and friends, we shut down all our blogs.

Thank you for your patience and for all the e-mails (most of them, anyway). We will continue to be as forthcoming and transparent as we possibly can. Toward that end, we’ll leave comments on (for now) for this post. Keep it clean, people.

Correction: In 2002, we were also publishing D Home and custom magazines for Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

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73 comments on “D Empire Shrinks By 19 Percent

  1. My best wishes coming from one who has survived five rounds of layoffs. Things aren’t well in media land.

  2. Having just been through this myself, less than a month ago at the DMN, I know how you all must be feeling over there. These are terribly hard times for print publishing of every kind…and Lord only knows what lies ahead as the industry shakeout continues and more jobs disappear each year.

    As the Scarecrow said to Dorothy: “Of course, I don’t know, but I think it’ll get darker before it gets lighter.”

  3. Maybe Wick’s comment about being ok with paying more taxes under Obama was true. He’s just going to use the salaries of others to do it.

    See, this will only effect the top 5%. The middles class on’t have their taxes increased, they will simply have their salaries decreased.

  4. Late to the fray, but please add my voice to those wishing the best for those who were let go and those who had a pay cut. I had a client announce a RIF just last week and can only imagine what all those affected are going through at this time.

  5. A question about the reduced salary: Was there a contract put in place that once the panic of 2008 blows over and ad sales are back at a reasonable level, you’ll be bumped back up to what you were earning?

    And thank you for the answer to the advertisers question.

  6. I don’t believe that Oak Cliff People is profitable. The problem with newspapers and magazines is the unwillingness to address the changing industry. Blogs have taken over. And, in the D world, there is a target audience. If that audience were widened just a bit, especially at the papers, they would be able to compete more in the dwindling media market. IJS

  7. Great question Jason. If this was really necessary, that seems as though it would have been a good gesture.

  8. @Tim: I would make Marty Cortland pick up all your tabs at Al’s until your salary is restored.

  9. @ Betty: a blog like this one will never replace a good magazine. They are two very different media with two very different missions.

    A good magazine brings you 5,000-word narratives. You might have already read bits of the story in the newspaper or on a blog. But the quintessential magazine story puts things in perspective and takes the space to look for larger truths.

    A good blog brings you smaller bits of information with snark.

    Look at it this way: you waste time at work reading a blog. You spend Sunday morning with your coffee and a magazine.

  10. And a good magazine does not have Marty Cortland, and this blog still does. There’s your difference right there.

  11. A day later and I keep coming back to how truly sad and horrible this is for all concerned.

    Look at Tim’s case, for instance. He not only had to cut jobs in a realm he loves and a world of personal and professional relationships. But more; he also undoubtedly sees his own salary cut. It doesn’t matter if you’re a family man or a swinging single…a cut in pay is more than a paper cut.

    Add to that how investments and 401Ks and college accounts are on the skids. Margin calls are hardly marginal at this point.

    What we have here is (on top of the obvious) is the rebuttal reality check to pundits who suggested that Dallas was immune to encroaching reality. Who dared boast about their moneyed moats were stocked with enough alligators to keep the panicked losers from storming Cafe Pacific. Welcome aboard the ship of fools. The good news is, one can get used to a cabin without a view in steerage. And yes, learn again to anticipate the view when another land mass comes into sight. I promise.

  12. Jason-
    By issuing D mag employees a contract to ensure that once things are pretty again, salaries will reflect- is just silly. When do you suggest this contract take effect? Who’s to say when the economy will be “normal”? What is “normal”? Promising terms that cannot be defined is part of the reason everyone is in this mess to begin with. All of us will continue to do our best at D because we believe in the company‚Äôs foundation and we have faith that things will get better. And when it does get better- we will be the ones who stuck through the hard times and I am proud of that.

  13. Dear Switzerland:

    I’m shouldering more than my fair share of the burden already. Please stick your nose in someone else’s business.

    Dear Daniel:

    Have you stopped to consider the inescapable correlation between my departure from the magazine and the immediate and precipitous drop in advertising revenue? It was clearly not only the readers who were sad to see me go.

  14. “By issuing D mag employees a contract to ensure that once things are pretty again, salaries will reflect- is just silly”

    not just silly but indicative of mind that is stuck in the world of unions. Businesses contract and expand all the time.

    as was pointed out who determines what is normal.

    now for something frightening check this out
    http://www.change.gov/agenda/economy_agenda/

  15. Marty: you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

    Going to Al’s after work…. but buying my own way.

  16. Hey Puddin’Tane, let us all know if Wick and Co. are over there having a glass of wine or dinner. I’m sure they need to throw some money around to relax now that the worst of it is over for them.

  17. People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day’s news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not. And every thing they want to tell anonymously.

    And http://www.layoffgossip.com is providing you that platform.