One of the biggest moments in my short “writing career” is when I saw that Sports Illustrated took a liking to the sport I love. They began giving a damn to the game more than once every four years or to show Americans that “their sports” were better than the Europeans’.
I was able to use Sports Illustrated as well as SI.com as a source of news that I could inform myself better and prepare myself with in the event I had to go on the air and talk so I didn’t sound like a complete blithering idiot. Sports Illustrated was also the publication par excellence in the sports landscape in America for generations prior to many of us having any concept of sport. It was already the most respected publication in America, it had the pulse of what was hip and going on in the sporting landscape in this country. It also evolved and informed Americans of what was going on abroad.
Now AllThingsSD’s Peter Kafka reports that this once proud magazine and franchise is no longer immune to the sweeping changes occurring in the modern media landscape.
Time Warner plans on putting into place a “reorg” that will probably leave about 600 people from SI, Money, and Fortune unemployed. Currently they are looking for volunteers to agree to a “retirement package” but this parting of ways will not last for long as is the case with Sports Illustrated.
For the reasons outlined in Ann Moore’s reorganization announcement of 10/28/08, the Sports Illustrated Group will reduce the size of its staff across all properties. At the magazine, we will reduce staff in the following guild-covered categories:
- copy editors
- photo equipment technicians
- picture catalogers
- picture researchers
- research assistants
A number of jobs not covered by the guild will also be eliminated at the magazine and across the group. Approximately 40 guild and non-guild volunteers are needed over the next two weeks to avoid involuntary job eliminations. If the number of volunteers falls short by Monday, December 1, involuntary layoffs will begin.”
On a professional basis this news is not shocking, it is the sign of the times. Personally it is a numbing reminder of the reality of this industry. Many of these people (some that were colleagues of mine for other publications and stay in touch with them on ocassion) it means much more than having a cool job- it is their economic well-being.
In recent years, Sports Illustrated’s sales went into a downward spiral and their special editions did not have the numbers that they did back in the 80′s and early 90′s when models like Heidi Klum and Carol Alt became household names after doing spreads for the publication.