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Vox Media Furloughs 9% of Staff, Cuts Salaries Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Affected employees will be furloughed beginning May 1

Vox Media informed employees Friday of the cost-cutting measures the company will be undertaking in response to the coronavirus crisis, including furloughs and pay cuts.

From May 1 to July 31, 9% of Vox Media’s staff will be furloughed, according to an internal memo reviewed by TheWrap. The teams affected by the furloughs include sales, sales support, production, events, SB Nation’s and Curbed’s editorial divisions and support functions like IT and Office Operations.

Employees making over $130,000 will see tiered salary reductions. Wage increases through the end of 2020 are also being frozen, as are 401k contribution matches.

“Today we are taking some of the most difficult and important cost reduction actions in our company’s history. I want to explain our decisions and the rationale behind them here as best I can,” wrote Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff in the memo.

He continued, “Underlying everything I am about to lay out is the obvious and tragic fact that the world is experiencing a health and economic crisis unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Because we operate in such a tumultuous industry, it’s tempting to lump in the economic carnage resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic with other events or crises that we’ve seen in the media business. This is clearly very different: while the severity of the pandemic’s effect varies across institutions and individual lives, it is universal, and no one is immune from its impact. Vox Media is no exception, but if we act swiftly, wisely and compassionately, we can increase the probability that we will be able to continue to build the strong company for which we are proud to work.”

The union for New York Magazine, which falls under Vox Media, issued a statement Friday afternoon, saying, “Initially, management insisted upon furloughing a small subset of our colleagues with the looming threat of immediate layoffs, possibly for a larger group, should we not come to an agreement. We made several counter-proposals that we take on these burdens collectively through across-the-board salary reductions and/or rolling furloughs. Management rejected every attempt from our union to achieve similar cost-savings.”

The union noted that it “secured the best possible terms under these extraordinary conditions” and hopes “this will be the first land last time we are negotiating under such dire and unprecedented circumstances.”