UPDATE: Deep Cuts at BusinessWeek

Business magazine plans to ax 100 people – 25% of its staff.

Last Updated: November 20, 2009 @ 12:02 PM

BusinessWeek began a round of layoffs on Thursday, a spokesperson for the magazine confirmed to TheWrap. This is apparently part of a plan to eventually cut 100 employees or 25 percent of its staff, the Wall Street Journal reports. Among the prominent columnists and writers getting the ax are media columnist Jon Fine, senior writer Stephen Baker, tech columnist Steve Wildstrom, personal finance editor Lauren Young and engagement editor Shirley Brady.

At this point it looks like most of the columnists at the magazine will not be making the transition over to Bloomberg.

Jon Fine, whose wife is mediabistro.com founder Laurel Touby, had been on a sabbatical when he got the news. This morning the columnist tweeted: "some sabbaticals last longer than others: I will not be returning to BusinessWeek and my column once Bloomberg owns the mag."

At BusinessWeek today, staffers said that the mood was surprisingly upbeat considering the size and scope of the cuts. Part of the reason for the gallows optimism was that the layoffs had been previously announced by the magazine’s management. There was also the recognition that a publication that had been bleeding money could not continue to have such a large newsroom.

"Even in grim journalistic environment, we have ways to continue to do our work," said Stephen Baker, who plans to write a book now that he was among those shown the door. "I think that people let go will find interesting opportunities."

Baker said that he was disheartened by many of the journalists included in the layoffs: "Many of them are excellent journalists, and I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be assets to the company."

In October, the venerable business magazine was purchased by Bloomberg LP from McGraw Hill for less than $5 million in cash and the assumption of the company’s debt. The publication was on track to lose roughly $40 million this year.

At BusinessWeek, staffers described a situation where those writers and editors getting slashed were brought into a meeting with representatives from McGraw Hill in the morning, while those who were being kept on board met with a team from Bloomberg.

This has been a week of major shakeups at the long-running publication. On Tuesday, it was announced that Josh Tyrangiel, formerly a deputy managing editor at Time magazine, would replace Stephen Adler as BusinessWeek’s new editor.

More to read:
Bloomberg’s Pearlstine Grilled
Why Bloomberg Bought BusinessWeek