On Tuesday, in a long-expected move, Atlantic Media, which owns the leftist National Journal, announced the Journal is cutting 25% of its staff and offering them buyouts. The move will be complete by the end of January 2016.
The Journal had once been available only to subscribers but attempted to reach the public as the public-facing NationalJournal.com. That didn’t succeed; David Bradley, the owner of the Atlantic Media Company, stated publicly in July that he would shut down the print version of the Journal, asserting that he was “not drawn … to proposing layoffs,” adding that the company “will do our best to help each person stay in place, or be reassigned, or transition to a new employer.”
Bradley’s announcement prompted employees to scurry about looking for jobs. In September Editor-in-Chief Tim Grieve left to join McClatchy; Kristin Roberts and Shane Goldmacher left for POLITICO, Dan Berman joined CNN, and Dylan Scott fled to the Boston Globe.
The Journal will return to a subscriber-only model; the Atlantic lamely said that the Journal will be better equipped to handle politics coverage. Roughly 20 staff members from National Journal will move to The Atlantic. If employees want to leave before the end of January, they will receive six weeks’ pay; if they stay through January they will be eligible for a 12-week bonus in and two weeks’ severance pay for each year of service.
Bradley told the staff on Tuesday that only 35-40 employees will be retained past Jan. 31, 2016. His memo to the staff read:
I’ve decided – and this was a personal decision – that the journalism that the National Journal now makes available to the broad public on its website instead should be devoted to our members (and subscribers). And, in foregoing a general audience, we will forego the advertising support that came with it. In fact, almost wholly, the National Journal returns to its historic position as member (and subscriber) supported only.
Bradley tried to put the best face on the matter, continuing, “For the last five years, The Atlantic and National Journal have been in gentle competition, with two event staffs and two advertising staffs competing in this same Washington space. Separating the businesses, giving one free rein with its public website and events, the other dedicated to a premium audience with premium product, is a strategic decision that could be made only at my level,”
The Atlantic will feature a new Washington Bureau, with a staff of 25 to 30.