MediaFile

Layoffs hit The Washington Post after BusinessWeek, AP

Several media reporters wrote on Twitter on Thursday that this was one of the worst weeks in journalism, and it’s hard to argue with them. BusinessWeek is canning a third of its staff as Bloomberg gets ready to buy the magazine. The Associated Press is laying off 90 people as part of its effort to cut payroll costs by 10 percent this year.

And now The Washington Post is laying off staff, sources told me on Friday, and a spokeswoman confirmed.

The Post has cut an unknown number of washingtonpost.com workers, the website folks who until now have worked separately at the dot-com headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, across the river from the Post’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. One source told me up to 10 are going. That’s not as big a number as other places you’ve read about lately, but it’s still a painful cut. (Disclosure: I worked for The Washington Post Co. from 1998 to 2005)

Sources shared several names with me, but until those people confirm that they were laid off, I don’t want to publish them. What I can say is that there were several journalists and marketing people among the casualties. They are getting severance packages, but they are accompanied by non-disclosure agreements which prevent them from discussing their firings. Apparently, some of my sources said, they will be out of work by Dec. 31.

Why is this happening? Here’s what spokeswoman Kris Coratti said:

As part of the work we’re doing to turn around the business that supports our journalism, there were a small number of individual positions eliminated as a result of efficiencies we have found through our new structure and through new technology, and those have taken place in both print and online.

Talking with Thomson Reuters chief about print

Covering Thomson Reuters Corp for almost two years has taught me that people like to cast my company in a recurring role in media deal parlor games. Now that the company’s arch-rival Bloomberg LP will buy BusinessWeek magazine from McGraw-Hill, lots of my pals in the media world are wondering: Will Thomson Reuters buy a mainstream news or business news magazine? Or newspaper? Why not Forbes? Why not the Financial Times?

Keep in mind that Thomson Reuters likes to remind people when they ask these questions that Thomson Corp, before buying Reuters, got out of its Canadian newspaper empire for a reason. (See below)

I asked our chief executive, Tom Glocer, a question along these lines on a Thursday phone call he had with reporters to discuss the company’s third-quarter financial results.

BusinessWeek, where the action happens off-screen

McGraw-Hill set Tuesday as the due date for bids for the ailing BusinessWeek magazine, and at least as of 7:30 pm eastern time, nothing at all has happened. Since this is one of those stories where I’ve encountered absolutely no fruitful sources, I’ve relied on reading the reports of other people.

So what’s going to happen to the business news weekly? Let’s catch up with the latest:

It will not go to Lazard chief Bruce Wasserstein. The owner of New York magazine has enough to deal with in the slumping publishing world already, so he’s gone, reports BusinessWeek columnist Jon Fine.

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Microsoft takes on Google as Office moves to Web (Reuters)
Jim Finkle reports: “Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program. Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee.”

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Windows 7 (Reuters)
“Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.”

MySpace to Take Entertainment Tack (WSJ)
“In a brief interview, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace needs to be refocused ‘as an entertainment portal.’ Mr. Murdoch described his vision for MySpace as a place where ‘people are looking for common interests,’” writes Julia Angwin.

Whither Windows 7 and its (expected) wake?

A lot may be riding on the release of Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 7, which is due in October, not the least of which is an expected rush of advertising to support everything from the software itself, to the computers it will run on to the rival computers it will not run on.

This surge of business is seen coming just as the holiday shopping session gets under way and could help spark the economic turnaround that some suggest will come later this year.

Or maybe not.

According to a survey by ScriptLogic, six in 10 companies plan to skip buying Windows 7. Some will pass on the added cost of the upgrade, while others are concerned about compatibility with existing applications.