From grim outlook to grim reaper: Magazine staffers have reason to fear

Is it the return of the Grim Reaper, just in time for Halloween?

News came this week that the folks from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company are back at Time Inc., called in by CEO Laura Lang.

Despite Lang’s assurances that the consultants are there to work on consumer marketing issues, McKinsey’s presence creates some justifiable jumpiness among employees.  After all, the last time they made an appearance, in 2007, roughly 800 people were shown the door.

This also comes on the heels of an earlier visit this year from Bain & Co, which was hired by Lang in March to help right the ship at Time.

As if that wasn’t enough to make a staffer nervous, Conde Nast this week went on a two-day blood letting, axing an estimated 60 positions.  The move was the result of a recent company edict, directing all titles to cut an additional 5% from next year’s budget.  This in addition to the 10% they were asked to cut for 2012.

SELF* took the biggest blow, losing eight editorial staffers and three on the business side.  BRIDES* suffered too, cutting five from its editorial department and six in business.  It seemed there was nowhere to hide, with dismissals extending to most titles and up to the top floor, including two casualties in corporate communications.

So you can hardly blame those who remain at Time Inc, or any other magazine publisher, for feeling a bit like characters in a Halloween slasher movie, waiting to be picked off.

It seems the Grim Reaper shows up much more often these days.

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