"I'm putting together my war economy restructuring plan," said W. Randall Jones, the founder and CEO of Worth Media. "I kept believing, like a lot of people, times are going to get better. I thought [there would be] a short, decisive war. I thought by now things would be looking good."
Publisher Mahesh Krishnamurti said the title will publish an April-May combined issue, as well as one in the summer. "We believe we will end up with eight issues," he said. Last year it published 10.
Everyone laid off
Mr. Jones said the magazine on March 27 laid off the entire staff, "including me." But many will be rehired, beginning April 1, he said: "We thought the fair way was to lay us all off and start afresh" with what Mr. Krishnamurti called "a core team." Mr. Krishnamurti expected that core team, which may be hired back on a staggered basis depending on work needs, to number more than half of the staff, which totaled around 40.
Mr. Jones also said he would take a salary cut, and that other pay cuts would be decided on "a case-by-case basis."
"It's been very tough for everyone in the category," said Mr. Jones, who cited financial services marketers ceasing to advertise in light of war uncertainties. But Worth has long had an especially difficult time on the ad front. Last year, according to Publishers Information Bureau, its ad pages fell 11.9% to 516.3. That's not much more than half of the ad page figure it notched in 1999, which was 903.5.
In February 2002, Mr. Jones became the majority owner of Worth Media by buying out virtually the entire stake owned by GSC Partners. Because it is a trailing title in a stressed category essentially owned by one man, many observers have expressed surprise at its continued existence.
Mr. Jones continues to dismiss such concerns. "Someone said to me Worth is like a New York City cockroach: You just can't kill it," he said. "I think that's absolutely true. I've been very committed to this. I still am. This will be a great business."