Layoffs have begun at Penske Media’s The Hollywood Reporter, multiple individuals with knowledge told TheWrap.
At least one digital media writer, J. Clara Chan, has been let go, while another individual with knowledge says at least two more staffers were laid off this week.
One insider told TheWrap that it’s not a “bloodbath.” When asked how many people were laid off, the individual said “not too many.” But one former THR top editor suggested that this could be the beginning of rolling layoffs to occur over the coming weeks.
PMC representatives didn’t respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.
As TheWrap previously reported earlier this month, the layoffs were expected at THR after Penske Media publications, including THR’s sister entertainment trade site Deadline, missed its revenue targets last quarter. PMC insiders told TheWrap that THR missed its Q1 2023 sales goal by 75%, while Deadline only hit 30% of their Q4 2022 revenue goals. A Penske rep said the numbers were “extremely off and don’t make sense.”
At any rate, there has been company-wide belt tightening alongside reduced expenditures. A staffer at Variety previously told TheWrap the trade publication has slashed travel and freelance budgets. And multiple staffers said that the PMC publications are on a hiring freeze.
The last time THR experienced a major layoff was in 2020, when at least 20 staffers were let go. At the time, the company attributed the job cuts, which would rise to about 100 staffers over its media division, to the pandemic and company-wide restructuring.
Penske’s holdings make it one of the largest media companies in the United States. These include trade magazines and news sites such as IndieWire and TVLine. It also has a stake in the ATX Film Festival and the recently created L.A. cultural festival, LA3C. In February, Penske Media paid $100 million for a 20% ownership stake in Vox Media, as well as a stake in Dick Clark Productions, co-owner of the Golden Globes and other television events.
The financial pressures PMC is experiencing are not unlike those shared by other publications currently, including TheWrap, as a result of lowered advertising buying amid an unstable economy, a writers’ strike and potential for work stoppage by additional Hollywood unions, as well as the overall financial impact of COVID-19.
The news landscape, especially digital news, has been hit hard lately, as many outlets have been forced to lay off staff, such as The Los Angeles Times, Vice, Vox, BuzzFeed, Insider and the LAist. Others have shuttered completely, including Protocol, Dot.LA and Gawker.
Legacy publications like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety have had to reduce issues of their print editions or even stop producing them, as was the case with Dotdash Meredith publications, including Entertainment Weekly, last year.