In one of her first acts of editorial prerogative mixed with budgetary necessity, Vanity Fair’s new editor in chief, Radhika Jones, laid off Thursday around 20 senior and junior staffers, many of them longtime loyalists of the plush Graydon Carter era.
Jones’ swift and painful cuts at VF, which were accompanied by new Glamour Editor Samantha Barry’s similar downsizing Thursday, were greeted by expressions of dismay by friends and colleagues of the terminated staffers—even though they hardly could have come as a surprise.
“It’s devastating,” said one, noting that several of the senior editors are paying their kids’ college tuitions.
Last November, after Condé Nast announced that Jones would be arriving from Time magazine as Carter’s successor as of Dec. 11, a well-connected industry source told The Daily Beast: “I have a lot of friends who work at Vanity Fair. They’re all freaking out. I think all the staff are in panic. They know that they’ve been on the gravy train for a long time.”
The 68-year-old Carter, who in December ended his quarter-century of running VF, retired when he did largely because he didn’t wish to preside over the sort of inevitable belt-tightening that Condé Nast Artistic Director Anna Wintour had been trying to compel. The cuts began Thursday morning, as Jones and HR personnel met with the exiting staffers and gave them the bad news, said an insider.
According to an informed source at Condé Nast, Jones will hire around eight (presumably less expensive) new editors and assistants to replace the departing staff—for a net loss of about a dozen—while Barry intends to hire five new staffers as replacements for the 10 who received pink slips Thursday, for a net loss of five.
The Hive, VF’s digital operation, will not be affected by the cuts, according to the source.
“Vanity Fair and Glamour are taking the first steps in reshaping their teams to reflect the new editorial directions of the brands—with new additions and initiatives to be announced shortly,” a Condé Nast spokesperson said in a statement. “The priority for each is to create quality and provocative content across all platforms equally, embracing the next generation of readers and viewers.”
Included among the VF staffers who are losing their jobs and worked under Carter—and in some cases, under Tina Brown before Carter took the reins in 1992—are Managing Editor Chris Garrett, Features Editor Jane Sarkin, Photography Director Susan White, Deputy Editors Aimeé Bell and Dana Brown, Editor at Large Cullen Murphy, Articles Editor Dan Gilmore, and Communications Executive Director Beth Kseniak.
Staffers who escaped the axe Thursday included Executive Editor Douglas Stumpf, Creative Development Editor David Friend, and Executive West Coast Editor Krista Smith.
Carter, who a source said spoke with several of the laid-off staffers from France on Thursday, was said to be “very upset” by the cuts.
“Horrific,” said a VF source, adding that the cuts include “most of the senior women who have spent their professional lives there, all over 50 or 60. At this time in history? It’s major.”
The pink-slipped staff at Glamour—many of them legacies of Cindi Leive’s editorship—included Creative Director Paul Ritter and model booker Richard Blandino, the New York Post reported.