D Empire Shrinks By 19 Percent

Monday was a tough day at D Magazine. Our company began a round of layoffs and salary reductions that is just now reaching its conclusion. The painful process forced us to shutter our blogs over the weekend and through most of today.

When I came to work for this company in early 2002, we published one magazine and had about 35 employees. As of last week, we were publishing 20 magazines (D Magazine, D Home, D CEO, D Beauty, D Weddings, and other specialty and custom magazines). Our newspaper division published six community newspapers under the People title (Park Cities People, Preston Hollow People, Oak Cliff People, Lake Highlands People, Lakewood People, and West Plano People). All together, 155 people worked for our organization. After all that growth, we’ve had to retrench.

Our readership numbers remain as strong as ever, but like every other publishing concern in the country, we’ve seen our ad revenue shrink. For detailed analysis of how this has happened, Google the phrase “global economic crisis” or, simply, “retail sales.”

We had to get leaner to thrive in this new business environment. On Friday, we began the process of letting go 14 people on the magazine side and 15 on the newspaper side, for a total of 19 percent of the 155 people who worked here. Those who remain have taken pay cuts. (No one who contributes to this blog was laid off.) We’ve also shuttered three newspapers: Lake Highlands People, Lakewood People, and West Plano People. Our remaining newspapers and all our magazines remain profitable.

As I say, the process began Friday, but it didn’t end until a few minutes ago. On Friday, that created a problem. Because, as most of you know, the FrontBurner Nation is nothing if not well-informed and alert. And eager to share. Our comments section began to spread news that some even in our company didn’t know yet. In deference to our co-workers and friends, we shut down all our blogs.

Thank you for your patience and for all the e-mails (most of them, anyway). We will continue to be as forthcoming and transparent as we possibly can. Toward that end, we’ll leave comments on (for now) for this post. Keep it clean, people.

Correction: In 2002, we were also publishing D Home and custom magazines for Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Comments

  • Jean Val Jean

    Wow. My company went through layoffs on Friday. It was eerie, so I know how it feels. My response was this: Empty Chairs at Empty Tables http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJnjcX8skXk

  • not given

    A year after the first round, and you did it again. what a shame!

  • brian baxter

    Let me see. Revenues are down but readership “remains as strong as ever.” I guess advertisers just don’t value those readers.

  • Gwyon

    Brian, there dozens of other conclusions you could reach based on those facts.

  • Mike

    Sorry to hear about the layoffs, Team D. I really am.

    On the same topic, I hope you will also careful tone down your gleeful tone of your posts when the DMN or other publications consolidate.

  • Mike

    God, I need an editor.

  • Eric Celeste

    Mike. Please point to the glee. Dare you.

  • Michael Bluth

    So sorry to hear about the cuts. I don’t think this coming year will be fun for the vast majority of people (economically). But hey, at least ya’ll didn’t major in finance.

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    My heartfelt hat tip to anyone who has lost their job. And too, to those of you who were given the tortuous job of culling the ranks. Having been on both sides of that business-world circumstantial equation, I can tell you that either role is a glimpse into hell on earth.

    I intend to go to Lee Harvey’s around 5:30-6 and if anyone involved needs a drink, I’m buying. Pensando en ti. Regards, Rawlins

  • Nathan

    For what it’s worth:

    I’d be willing to pay a reasonable price for a good local online news source. That means:

    1.) Focus almost entirely on local news. There are too many other sources for world/national news.

    2.) No editorial boards stating the outlet’s “official position” on an issue. I think this has hurt the DMN as well as a number of national newspapers. Too often the editorial board promotes a position that is all too consistent with the paper’s ownership. You can publish opinion, just balance it by publishing the opposing view. It’s not hard to find two smart, articulate, well informed writers on both sides of any newsworthy issue.

    3.) Humor is very important. I go to Unfair Park on a weekly basis for two reasons: to balance the reporting of the DMN and to laugh. The blog postings and succeeding comments are funny. Especially those that are tasteless.

  • For the record…

    And to keep the ad-hoc editorial flag flying, here’s something to break the grim silence around the Lee Harvey’s table this evening:

    Torturous is the adjective form of torture; it means causing torture or pain. Tortuous means full of twists, turns, or bends. Tortious, often misspelled as tortuous, means pertaining to a tort.

    Having personally if not professionally survived more than half-a-dozen layoffs, I assure you that the torturous job of spreading the news, when done right, avoids the tortious aspect while affording more personal and professional growth opportunities for one’s own, tortuous path through life.

  • I love this blog. Eleven comments in, and it has already turned to grammar. Thank you, For the Record.

  • In addition to the layoffs, sorry to hear about the pay cuts for those who remain. Now’s really not the time…

  • Bring back Special K

    sorry about the layoffs.

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    To For the record: Per your point and my post~deciding who stays and who goes in a corporate ax swing was (for me) a torturous experience, but the process of choosing who gets sliced and diced is, if done with timely care and honor, tortuous.

    To Nathan: PegasusNews. It is hardly perfect but as a bright infant, it has growth potential.

  • Joe

    For many it’s going to be a “hard candy Christmas” and year ahead.

  • LakeWWWooder

    You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in…sixty years.

    OK maybe it only seems you have Charlie Kane running the place. But I must express my regret about the words which will not be written – and I can’t be at Lee Harvey’s but a virtual toast to all those affected. I have enjoyed your work.

  • Just Another Redhead

    What Tim didn’t tell you was that last year around this same time D did another round of layoffs at both the magazines and the newspapers. About the same numbers were let go on both sides. I don’t remember seeing a gracious post on FB about that one. I happen to be one of the ones let go and they company handled it in very well, I will give them that. Good luck everyone!

  • DGirl

    Sorry, Y’all. I wish you all the best and I really missed you guys today. I was much more productive at work than normal and I’m not sure I like that about me.

  • Puddin’Tane

    Joe: thanks for using my line.

  • Joe

    Puddin’ Tane: Didn’t mean to upstage you. I wish neither of us had to use it.

  • I too look forward to my daily vitamin D.
    Im sorry to hear about the Lay-offs. Good wishes to you all. Im a freelancer so it seems I get laid off every week, with this economy though, it seems my lance has had allot of freetime, time to read blogs. Glad you guys are back,

  • chris

    I know how its to lose a job, ive lost a few in my time, so my heart goes out to the people who lost their positions for no real reason besides managements inability to do their job…

    That being said: People want journalism and well through out stories that occure outside your park cities enclaves and circle of friends. Going forward, maybe that should be the approach of your publication. A glossy version of the Dallas Observer: less boob job/cosmetic dentist ads, more hard-hitting investigative content w/o the park cities slant wick and friends has been known to throw in at times.

  • Gwyon

    And now, Tim, it seems we’ve come full circle re: grammar.

  • DGirl

    More importantly – how do you feel about Cubes being in the hot seat today, huh guys? Let’s get on with it!

  • @ Gwyon: yes, it did occure to me that we’d come full circle.

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    FrontBurner being a no-show shut-down on a Monday was wrong; like showing up at an orgy… only to realize you have no condoms. Wrong.

  • Daniel

    I’d like that, too, Chris, but let’s face it — the shops at Highland Park Village are doing fine, as always. Business-wise, it may make the most sense to focus even more tightly on the ascot set.

    [countdown until someone points out that businesswise requires no hyphen. 10…9…8…]

  • chris

    Rawlings, so so wrong. Pardon me, I’m going to have to scrub out my cerebrial cortex with ajax and clorox

  • Daniel

    Rawlins,

    Is that not the one place you’re guaranteed to be able to bum one? Without even stammering or speaking in a conspiratorial whisper. Why, at an orgy a man can cry out loud: Who’s got a rubber for me, people?! and if anything, the assembled will feel a touch of admiration for his rhetoric.

    Don’t borrow one from Marco, though. You don’t want to know why.

  • In need of a hero

    I am in need of a new hero.

    Could it be Chris Mulder?

    Yeah.

  • Jason

    I work for an association magazine, and we’re experiencing the same downturn in ad revenue. My question, though, is where are the advertisers going? And if you say they’re going nowhere and just holding on to their cash, then how are they making consumers aware of their products and services?

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    Just HOW wrong is a Monday w/o FB? Wrong!
    Like lip-synching Madonna’s, ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ at a Catholic christening.

  • Carnac the Magnificent

    I know how they are making consumers aware of their products and services.

    The answer is in my envelope.

  • Ad Guy

    @ Jason…they are moving their cash online.

  • Brian Barnaud

    I hate to say it. but as one who has long loved this blog and made d a trust for news, simply leaving the blog off with the “hello World” thing is a bit of a drag. I’m sorry this is happening, but your news is also our news, if thats what you do, news.

  • Peterk

    “FrontBurner being a no-show shut-down on a Monday was wrong;”

    not often that I agree with Rawlins, but I do on this. When I went to get my morning bit all I saw was a Hello World.
    My first thought was that the D empire’s dubdubdub registration had not been renewed, or that they had been hijacked by either the DMN editorial team or Wilonsky’s Flying Fingers of Fury.

    Sad to hear about the bad news, but next time could you put up more than just “hello world”?

  • @ Jason; you’re missing the point, friend. Advertisers aren’t “holding onto their cash.” They don’t have cash. Retail sales are way down. Fear is a factor, sure. But so is cash flow. That’s why we did what we did. To address OUR cash flow issues. This really isn’t about D Magazine. We are dealing with global forces on a local level.

  • MG

    Tim’s right. The easy answer is to say advertisers are taking their cash online, but that simply isn’t the case. Advertisers, like most Americans, aren’t spending right now.

  • Anne Young Fritsche

    Echoing Peterk.

    Mostly though, I’m just sorry about the layoffs. Having been in that position more than once, I am really, really sorry for those who lost their jobs and those who took pay cuts.

    It’s a tough time. There but for the grace…. well, I don’t even want to finish that sentence.

    My thoughts are with all of you who were… D-tonated? (Can I say that?) This blog has been part of my daily life for almost six years.

    Best of luck.

  • BradT

    Where’s the list of the folks who got the ax?

  • @ BradT: out of respect for those we let go, we aren’t publishing their names. If anyone who posts to this blog had been laid off, we would have shared their (his or her?) names. But as it is, we edit people are still here — though now earning reduced salaries. The magazine layoffs came from business, design, and advertising. There isn’t a single person let go that won’t be missed.

  • Brandon

    Good thoughts to all affected by the layoffs, here at D and everywhere else.

  • Just Another Redhead

    Chris Mulder is my hero!

  • Chowder

    So fear and cash flow are a factor. Is this a proactive or reactive axe-ing? And let me axe you another question. The latest D CEO was thin, man. How many issues can it survive in this current economy? I hope many because it has a lot of promise.

  • Jim

    Oak Cliff People is profitable?!

    What an odd combo that’s left at People: Park Cities, Preston Hollow, and . . . Oak Cliff.

  • Bill

    Coffee is for Closers.

    Rupert Murdoch has been interviewed in the past several days on the death of print. Kind of interesting. His idea/remedy seems to follow what D is doing in regards to having a blog to fill in gaps between issues or to generate buzz.

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    ‘D’ isn’t going anywhere. Tim says it best when he says it’s a local indication of a global reality. The decline in circulating dollars is palpable. (Yes, even at Neiman Marcus and HP Shopping Center.) But ‘D’ is here to stay, and so is our love.

    Meanwhile: A Monday without FrontBurner is like when you gave her a VERY generous gift card to Victoria’s Secret and all she bought was robes & pajamas. Sad. And wrong.

  • Sally

    Staff reductions are one thing, but staff cuts AND salary reductions are pretty damn drastic. I mean, panicky about FCF. I wonder if that’s why recent posts about the competition were more conciliatory than usual?

  • Doug

    It can’t be true…..Obama was elected…..he said all would be well….

    It would have been better to shut down the comments rather than all the blogs, you are a media outlet.

  • News Junkie

    My best wishes coming from one who has survived five rounds of layoffs. Things aren’t well in media land.

  • Having just been through this myself, less than a month ago at the DMN, I know how you all must be feeling over there. These are terribly hard times for print publishing of every kind…and Lord only knows what lies ahead as the industry shakeout continues and more jobs disappear each year.

    As the Scarecrow said to Dorothy: “Of course, I don’t know, but I think it’ll get darker before it gets lighter.”

  • Obama

    Maybe Wick’s comment about being ok with paying more taxes under Obama was true. He’s just going to use the salaries of others to do it.

    See, this will only effect the top 5%. The middles class on’t have their taxes increased, they will simply have their salaries decreased.

  • JS

    Late to the fray, but please add my voice to those wishing the best for those who were let go and those who had a pay cut. I had a client announce a RIF just last week and can only imagine what all those affected are going through at this time.

  • Why do people always assume that Oak Cliff is entirely low-rent?

  • Tom

    Because they’re on Tim O’Hare’s e-mail list?

  • Jason

    A question about the reduced salary: Was there a contract put in place that once the panic of 2008 blows over and ad sales are back at a reasonable level, you’ll be bumped back up to what you were earning?

    And thank you for the answer to the advertisers question.

  • Betty

    I don’t believe that Oak Cliff People is profitable. The problem with newspapers and magazines is the unwillingness to address the changing industry. Blogs have taken over. And, in the D world, there is a target audience. If that audience were widened just a bit, especially at the papers, they would be able to compete more in the dwindling media market. IJS

  • Obama

    Great question Jason. If this was really necessary, that seems as though it would have been a good gesture.

  • D

    You are loved.

  • Switzerland on the Sidelines

    @Tim: I would make Marty Cortland pick up all your tabs at Al’s until your salary is restored.

  • @ Betty: a blog like this one will never replace a good magazine. They are two very different media with two very different missions.

    A good magazine brings you 5,000-word narratives. You might have already read bits of the story in the newspaper or on a blog. But the quintessential magazine story puts things in perspective and takes the space to look for larger truths.

    A good blog brings you smaller bits of information with snark.

    Look at it this way: you waste time at work reading a blog. You spend Sunday morning with your coffee and a magazine.

  • Daniel

    And a good magazine does not have Marty Cortland, and this blog still does. There’s your difference right there.

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    A day later and I keep coming back to how truly sad and horrible this is for all concerned.

    Look at Tim’s case, for instance. He not only had to cut jobs in a realm he loves and a world of personal and professional relationships. But more; he also undoubtedly sees his own salary cut. It doesn’t matter if you’re a family man or a swinging single…a cut in pay is more than a paper cut.

    Add to that how investments and 401Ks and college accounts are on the skids. Margin calls are hardly marginal at this point.

    What we have here is (on top of the obvious) is the rebuttal reality check to pundits who suggested that Dallas was immune to encroaching reality. Who dared boast about their moneyed moats were stocked with enough alligators to keep the panicked losers from storming Cafe Pacific. Welcome aboard the ship of fools. The good news is, one can get used to a cabin without a view in steerage. And yes, learn again to anticipate the view when another land mass comes into sight. I promise.

  • B

    Why is frontburner/dmagazine.com down? It’s still showing “Hello World!”

  • Obama

    ^ Then how did you post that?

  • @B (if you can see this): Clear your cache, then restart your browser.

  • Uhhh

    Jason-
    By issuing D mag employees a contract to ensure that once things are pretty again, salaries will reflect- is just silly. When do you suggest this contract take effect? Who’s to say when the economy will be “normal”? What is “normal”? Promising terms that cannot be defined is part of the reason everyone is in this mess to begin with. All of us will continue to do our best at D because we believe in the company’s foundation and we have faith that things will get better. And when it does get better- we will be the ones who stuck through the hard times and I am proud of that.

  • Marty Cortland

    Dear Switzerland:

    I’m shouldering more than my fair share of the burden already. Please stick your nose in someone else’s business.

    Dear Daniel:

    Have you stopped to consider the inescapable correlation between my departure from the magazine and the immediate and precipitous drop in advertising revenue? It was clearly not only the readers who were sad to see me go.

  • Peterk

    “By issuing D mag employees a contract to ensure that once things are pretty again, salaries will reflect- is just silly”

    not just silly but indicative of mind that is stuck in the world of unions. Businesses contract and expand all the time.

    as was pointed out who determines what is normal.

    now for something frightening check this out
    http://www.change.gov/agenda/economy_agenda/

  • Puddin’Tane

    Marty: you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

    Going to Al’s after work…. but buying my own way.

  • Obama

    Hey Puddin’Tane, let us all know if Wick and Co. are over there having a glass of wine or dinner. I’m sure they need to throw some money around to relax now that the worst of it is over for them.

  • People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day’s news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not. And every thing they want to tell anonymously.

    And http://www.layoffgossip.com is providing you that platform.