Wenner Media has laid off at least five staffers for Rollingstone.com, according to sources there. Managing Editor Evie Nagy and Associate Editor Matthew Perpetua are among those let go Tuesday. Last week the company informed employees in a note with their paychecks that it would stop contributing to their 401(k) plans effective July 16.
Rolling Stone laid off four staffers in its online division in 2008 after Wenner Media hired Steve Schwartz to be its chief digital officer. Schwartz left the company last year and was replaced by Bill Crandall. Soon after, Editor-in-Chief Nick Catucci left.
Sources tell me that Crandall delivered the bad news to some of the employees yesterday; his office directed me to a Wenner spokesperson when I called. (I’ll update when I hear back.) Staff were told that the company is planning to further integrate the website and magazine staffs, which have operated in rough parallel for years. A couple months ago, sources say, the Web staff was ordered to post only excerpts of the magazine content outside the site’s paywall while issues were on stands because the company worried that free content was affecting newsstand sales. (Subscribers can still read all content behind the paywall.)
Wenner Media is currently looking for a Group Executive Director, Digital Operations, according to a job posting.
In 2010, Politico published a PDF of Michael Hasting’s blockbuster Rolling Stone story about Gen. Stanley McChrystal when Rolling Stone failed to publish it online in a timely fashion. Hastings, a freelancer when he wrote that story, was hired by BuzzFeed in February, joining Doree Shafrir, who left Rollingstone.com the month before.
The year before, Foster Kamer wrote about some of the challenges facing the venerable rock magazine’s Web property:
Forget the fact that Rolling Stone’s losing breaking news traffic now (thanks, Brooklyn Vegan). Or that their Five Stars mean nothing anymore (thanks, Pitchfork). Or that their music analysis is being overrun (MBV), their political rockstar’s still blogging for a political site that has their own writers working their own ad sales, and their movie critic is still Peter “Quotemaster” Travers.
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Rolling Stone’s print circulation has limped along in the past several years, up about 2.5 percent since 2007.