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The Atlantic lays off almost 20% of staff

The Atlantic is laying off nearly 20% of staff, according to an internal note from David Bradley, the publication’s chairman, that was obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: It’s the latest media company that’s been been forced to take drastic measures to survive the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of play: The 68 staff cuts are mostly attributable to the collapse of the company’s events business, which was one of its strongest pillars for many years.

  • In the memo, Bradley says that sales, editorial and events staff are all impacted.
  • “There is no fault on the part of people leaving the firm.  What makes this so particularly difficult is that these are exceptional and beloved Atlantic colleagues.  They are exactly the same good people who were selected to join us at the outset.  Measure for measure, they have contributed to The Atlantic as have those who are remaining. It is only that the ground has shifted,” Bradley wrote in his note to staff.
  • “I had thought that I would spend some substantial part of this memo explaining the reasoning behind our decision. But, I think it may speak for itself. The particular timing is clear — a global pandemic that has shuttered the economy generally, advertising acutely, and in-person events altogether,” he added.

Between the lines: The Atlantic’s new majority ownership stake from Emerson Collective, the impact investment vehicle owned by Laurene Powell Jobs, has allowed the company to accelerate its growth in recent years, including a major staff increase and expansion that began in 2018.

The big picture: The pandemic is forcing dozens of major media companies, including newer, digitally-native media companies and older magazine companies, to carry out layoffs and pay cuts.

  • The Atlantic joins The Hollywood Reporter, Fortune, Billboard, The Economist Group, Group Nine Media, BuzzFeed News, Vox Media, Bustle Digital Group, Cheddar, Maven Media, G/O Media, Protocol and others who have resorted to layoffs and furloughs.

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