It’s bad out there for the magazine industry as more consolidation leads to more dismissals. Hearst Media is laying off at least 15 editorial employees from its newly acquired Women’s Health magazine, as part of plans to combine that publication’s staff with other Hearst brands, including Cosmopolitan, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Currently only 10 people remain from the Women’s Health editorial team, while others have been offered severance packages with the potential chance to land a new job on the newly combined editorial team.
Last October Hearst bought Rodale, the owner of both Women’s Health and Men’s Health magazines. “We are confident that Hearst’s stewardship will continue to grow the passionate and purpose-driven communities that Rodale has built over the past 70 years,” Maria Rodale, the company’s former chief executive, told the New York Times in a statement at the time of the purchase. It seems some big changes, however, are on the horizon.
The layoffs were announced to staffers yesterday, according to sources who wish to remain anonymous. The New York Post reported last night that as many as 84 Rodale employees were let go, but included no specifics about affected brands.
Hearst today is meeting with the employees who remain and discussing the two health magazines’ future. This decision, feels one source, is “crazy,” as Hearst initially told Women’s Health staff that it purchased Rodale because of “the depth of our reporting.”
“It’s kind of shocking,” says the source, “they just want the advertising adjacency.”
Hearst’s plan is to combine Women’s Health into its overall Young Women’s Group umbrella, which includes both Cosmopolitan and Seventeen. This publication consortium will be led by Michele Promaulayko, a former editor at Women’s Health and current editor at Cosmopolitan.
Meanwhile, some staff from Men’s Health have also been laid off. It hasn’t been confirmed how Hearst’s publications will absorb Men’s Health staff, but Esquire may be involved, according to sources.
It’s unclear what the editorial merging of Women’s Health with the Young Women’s Group will look like, but surprising rumors are flying, indicating that anxiety is high among current and recently let-go staffers. Some sources fear for the future of the Women’s Health brand, although the current plan appears to be to keep it separate from the other magazines.
I reached out to Hearst, and a spokesperson declined to speak on the record. If you know anything else about either Women’s Health or Men’s Health, please reach out.