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Job cuts at Philadelphia Magazine and buyouts at The Inquirer mark latest signs of economic strain at media outlets

Philadelphia Magazine’s publisher said it was bracing for a potential second COVID-19 surge.

A Philadelphia magazine cover.
A Philadelphia magazine cover.Read morePhiladelphia magazine

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the long-term decline in print advertising, delivered another blow to media jobs this week.

Metro Corp., which publishes Philadelphia Magazine and its counterpart in Boston, said this week that it is cutting eight positions and putting 13 employees on furlough in its Boston and Philadelphia offices. Remaining employees are being forced to take 20% pay cuts for 90 days, said an employee who was not authorized to speak for the company.

“This difficult decision will allow us to devote resources to produce our trusted brand of quality journalism and reader service that our audiences have come to expect and count on,” Metro said in a statement on Philadelphia Magazine’s website.

Details on the categories of employees affected by the cuts or on how many employees will remain in the two offices were not available. The company, which made the announcement Tuesday, did not respond to a voicemail at its Center City office.

In April, The Inquirer reported that Philadelphia Magazine’s circulation was 90,000. Metro is owned by the Lipson family, which in April for the first time tapped someone outside the family as chief executive. The new CEO, Nick Fischer, a Connecticut-based consultant who is listed on LinkedIn as interim CEO, was not available to comment Thursday.

The magazine announced in June that editor Tom McGrath was stepping down at the end of the summer. McGrath said that the publication needed to evolve and that it should replace him with someone who is not “a middle-aged white guy.”

Economic fallout from COVID-19, which has shut down large swathes of the economy, has caused steep declines in advertising revenue for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, websites, and TV channels. Among them is The Inquirer, which on Wednesday announced a buyout offer to cut costs.

Inquirer publisher and CEO Elizabeth H. Hughes said in an email to staff that the company’s revenue was expected to fall 13% this year when compared with last year.

The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents editorial, finance, advertising, and other Inquirer employees, said that 61 union employees are eligible for the buyout based on age and years of service, and that the company wants at least 12 to take it. According to the union, which represents 284 Inquirer employees, the company has not said whether it will resort to layoffs if it does not achieve its savings goal through buyouts.

Also eligible for the buyout are 17 nonunion employees in The Inquirer’s information technology, marketing, and newsroom divisions.

Earlier this year, The Inquirer had six newsroom buyouts, and 21 buyouts and five layoffs in advertising and the events division.