That’s the question being asked today by some very well read publications covering journalism and the media.
Earlier this month, American Lawyer Media laid off 42 staffers across the board. The company is also “scaling back” plans to expand the scope of one magazine, and moving another to an all-digital format, according to an internal memo. One insider says all of the laid off people are gone, but a sense of nervousness still pervades the office.
And from Folio:
Ever since British acquisition firm Incisive Media purchased U.S.-based ALM last July for $630, it seemed that the Apax Partners subsidiary was on the fast track, quickly evolving from an entrepreneurial startup to b-to-b powerhouse.
Now, it seems there is some apprehension from inside-mostly about revenues. Is the legal market not as recession-proof as once thought?
Earlier this month, ALM slashed 47 jobs across the board. The company apparently is scaling back plans to grow Real Estate Media’s Florida publication into a monthly magazine and is shifting Law Firm, Inc. from a print to online only.
Both Gawker and Folio reference CEO Bill Pollak’s internal memo:
Several weeks ago, I wrote to you about our business results for the first quarter of 2008 and shared some of the challenges we face as a result of the credit squeeze and other market factors. I also described our intention to tighten our belts and reduce costs. With no change in sight on the economic horizon, the senior management team and I have spent the past few weeks examining our business options. Our goal was to find solutions that would lower expenses without compromising quality, and which would allow us to continue to invest in and meet our long term business goals. In particular, we all strongly agree on the need to continue investing in our Web infrastructure, while expanding ALM’s ability to generate and publish content online.
We looked at each business with these questions in mind: Are we getting the right return on our investment? Do we need to keep doing this work? Can we do this work another way? We believe that while we are primarily doing the right work in the right way, there are changes we need to make immediately to respond to economic conditions.
Some of these changes involve revising the timing or scope of planned initiatives. Others, however, are staff related and go beyond simply delaying the filling of open jobs. In total, we have decided to eliminate forty-two current positions across ALM and Incisive’s US operations. These staff reductions are distributed across businesses, locations and job levels and all the employees involved have already been notified.
The business changes we will be making are also broad in scope. These include scaling back plans to grow Real Estate Media’s Florida publication into a monthly magazine; closing down the Operations Department of Incisive’s Norwalk, CT. office; and shifting Law Firm, Inc. from a print magazine to a digital product.
Another change in business strategy – and the one that will have the greatest impact on staff – is our decision to restructure ALM’s Event Division and reassign management responsibility for many of our existing SRI conferences to Insight in Canada, Incisive’s Events group in London and ALM’s Legal Publishing Division. A number of SRI’s financial events will be eliminated.
Accepting and working through change is never easy, and changes that affect our colleagues and friends can be particularly painful. We did not make these decisions lightly. But we know that our future success depends on our ability to align ourselves with our markets and clients, and to ensure we have the resources we need to develop and grow our brands. The changes announced today will not only help us during the current economic turbulence, but will make us stronger in the future.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a note at
ALM has some talented and passionate reporters, editors, and management folks – one of whom is Pollak. But as with the journalism industry in general placing greater weight on online media, there are going to be changes.
Added to that is Incisive Media’s footprint. Incisive is a fast growing digital information provider doing some innovative things. With innovation will come change.
Expect ALM to be a force in legal publishing at the end of the day. But with digital gaining on print, things will just be much different.