'Layoffs Don't Surprise' Says One Weary Staffer

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NEW YORK ( -- Primedia today laid off 65 staffers across its business-to-business publications.

The layoffs, across its business-to-business magazine segment

CEO Tom Rogers clarified a blunt memo.
which employs over 1,100, total around 45, said a company employee who attended a meeting in which that figure was divulged.

About 20 layoffs also occurred across its Media Central properties, which include media-aimed trade titles like Folio:, Cable World and Book Publishing Report and employ around 220.

No surprise
Asked if the moves came as a surprise, one recession-weary staffer said, "Layoffs don't surprise anymore."

Other Media Central staffers said that in the wake of a closed-door meeting of top managers that took place late Wednesday afternoon, some sort of action was expected to occur today. "It's the end of the quarter," said another staffer. "Figure it out."

A company spokesman confirmed the layoffs and said, "The b-to-b segment continues to be in a weak economic environment, and we are taking appropriate steps to maximize operating efficiencies."

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No titles were shut down as a result of the layoffs, although multiple staffers were laid off at at least one thinly staffed newsletter, Folio: First Day, which covers the magazine industry.

The spokesman said David Ferm, president-CEO of Primedia's b-to-b group, was not available for comment.

Company memo
Primedia's moves come in the same week in which CEO Tom Rogers, in response to a New York Times article on the company, issued a memo to staffers characterizing key portions of the Media Central properties in unusually blunt terms. He said the article's reporters, David Carr and Lorne Manly, "have recently come off the difficult experience of being part of the Brill/Media Central operations, which was a very unhappy experience for all within the Primedia family. The Media Central/ new media operations were the singularly least successful of any that Primedia has been involved with in terms of developing any real traction in monetizing the new media side of the business."

In an addendum to the memo sent later that day, he said, "I did not intend to denigrate the efforts or results of the many people who worked across the Media Central/Brill/ venture. ... I did not in any way intend to cast aspersions on those running or working in those ventures." (A Primedia spokesman said he was unaware of company memos and could not comment on them.)

Primedia's stock closed today at $3.17, unchanged from the previous day's close.

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