The Atlantic will lay off almost 20 percent of its staff as a result of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the top executive announced Thursday.
David Bradley, chairman and owner of Atlantic Media, sent a memo to staff saying that 68 staffers from the events, sales and editorial departments will be let go before 11 a.m. Thursday. The remaining workers will endure a general pay freeze for the rest of 2020, and top executives will also experience a pay cut, he said.
“I want to tell our departing colleagues how deeply sorry I am,” Bradley wrote in the memo. “If we saw any prospect that your jobs would return in a reset Atlantic, we would have found another way forward.”
The Atlantic is laying off about 20% of its staff -- 68 people across divisions -- per a memo from David Bradley, after collapse of events business. pic.twitter.com/XCJKLeXYTy— Ben Smith (@benyt) May 21, 2020
Those being laid off will receive a severance package of a minimum 16 weeks’ salary pay and two weeks for each year of service beyond the first year. Typically, employees being laid off receive a minimum of 10 weeks, but Bradley said they added six weeks to “support during this singularly-difficult year,” according to the full memo obtained by Variety.
The former employees will also receive health care, with The Atlantic paying the continuation of health insurance, or COBRA, through the end of the year. The company pledged to provide job search support through RiseSmart for three months, and the former employees will retain ownership of their Atlantic laptops for the program's duration.
“I know that the pandemic is indiscriminate in its course, cutting through various industries and geographies,” Bradley said. “But, as has been the case for decades, our media economy is especially hard hit.”
After the layoffs, the media company plans to focus on reaching its goal of 1 million subscribers by December 2022 and on increasing business-to-business revenue, he said.
The Atlantic has collected more than 90,000 new subscribers since March, putting the total at 450,000. But the increased subscriber revenue did not offset the loss from advertising and its live events business.