The new owner of the National Enquirer is furloughing the entire staff of four sports titles the previous owner picked up just last year: Bike, Surfer, Powder and Snowboarder.
It’s the second round of furloughs since struggling publishing house American Media was merged with distribution company Accelerate 360 LLC and rebranded as A360 Media in August.
In early September the new owner warned staffers that furloughs would be coming to offset the financial pain wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, which has slashed ad spending and newsstand sales. As The Post reported at the time, sources claimed that the furloughs nabbed as many as 198 people across the company, including staffers at celebrity titles National Enquirer and Us Weekly. The company declined to comment.
The latest furloughs hit four of 14 mags that American Media purchased from The Enthusiast Network in Feb. 2019 for an estimated $10 million. At the time of the purchase, American Media had turned most of the new titles into all-digital publications. Only Bike, Surfer, Powder and Snowboarder survived with regularly scheduled print editions.
News of the latest cutbacks was first reported by website Adventure Journal, which said that the entire staff of Bike and Surfer had been furloughed on Friday and that the websites had stopped posting. Winter-oriented titles Powder and Snowboarder were told they would be furloughed after their November issues go to press, although a Snowboarder insider said it would keep a single editor on board to run the website and social media accounts to fulfill the brand’s obligations to the Dew sports tour.
A spokesman for Chatham initially denied that there had been staff layoffs when The Post called over the weekend. On Monday, after the Adventure Journal story ran, the spokesman acknowledged that there was another round of furloughs but declined to provide specifics.
“Due to the pandemic’s economic impact on the industry and the cancellation of live events, staff furloughs and the suspension of operations for some brands are necessary for the time being,” said the spokesman.
Adventure Journal reported that many staffers are looking for new jobs because they don’t expect to be rehired. One insider who was laid off in the first round of furloughs on September 4 told this reporter: “They gave no timeline as to when people might be called back — or for that matter, if they’d be called back at all.”
American Media in August merged with Accelerate 360 LLC, a wholesale distribution company is majority-owned by Anthony Melchiorre’s hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, which was also a majority shareholder in American Media prior to the merger. Sources at the time said the deal was a way to roll American Media’s choking debt load of about $400 million into a new combined entity.
American Media’s longtime CEO and Donald Trump pal David Pecker was removed as head of the media operation as a result of the merger. But as The Post has reported, Pecker has remained involved editorially as a “special advisor” to David Parry, the CEO of Accelerate 360.
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