June 30, 2016

International Business Times on Thursday became the latest digital news organization to trim its newsroom headcount, laying off “at least 20” journalists, according to POLITICO:

The tech and media desks were hit the hardest. Michael Learmonth, the tech, media and culture editor of IBTimes, was laid off, along with deputy editor of media and culture Christopher Zara, European tech editor David Gilbert, tech reporters Kerry Flynn and Eric Markowitz, and media reporter Brendan James.

The layoffs are part of a restructuring of IBT Media, the company that owns Newsweek and several standalone websites, including the International Business Times. In a press release Thursday, the company said it would spin off Newsweek into a separate operational entity and consolidate its websites — which include DigitalTimes, Fashion Times, and the Latin Times — into another division.

“This restructuring will allow us to continue to support the growth of IBT Media and Newsweek” Etienne Uzac, CEO of IBT Media, said in a statement. “Our overall plan, which includes some staff downsizing, is part of an overall plan to drive efficiencies throughout the company.”

Today’s layoffs come on the heels of an earlier culling at International Business Times that saw the digital news outlet’s top editor, Peter Goodman, depart. In that round of cuts, which took place in March, “at least 15” employees were laid off, according to POLITICO.

During the beginning of the year, payroll irregularities prevented some employees from receiving their biweekly paychecks.

The cutback at IBT is the latest gloomy business development for digital-only news organizations in the United States. Earlier this year, Mashable announced a newsroom layoff that saw its editor in chief depart along with some of its business, politics and world news staffers. In April, the Financial Times reported that BuzzFeed missed its 2015 revenue goals and was adopting more conservative financial targets in 2016.

Several current and former IBT employees on Thursday tweeted about the layoffs, letting prospective employers know of their availability in a pattern that has become all too familiar in the media business:

International Business Times is owned by IBT Media, the same company that owns Newsweek.

An employee at IBT told Recode that “more than half” of the newsroom has been laid off; another source told Recode that between 30 and 40 employees have been cut.

Employees who do not find employment within two weeks are eligible for a severance amounting to one week’s pay for every year with the company, according to POLITICO.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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