Gawker Media to Lay Off 14% of Editorial Staff

Gawker strikes again, but this time against its own people.

Nick Denton announced Friday that 14% of Gawker’s editorial staff will be laid off as “a preventative measure” to offset against the collapsing economy.

(Read: Gawker’s soon to be collapsing content.)

Successful New York-based blog network Gawker Media will be laying off 19 of its 133 editorial staffers, according to an internal e-mail from publisher Nick Denton. The company will be additionally suspending its bonus payments to writers and editors, but will be increasing their base pay and making some strategic hires at the company’s most successful blogs.

“With the savings, we are increasing base pay and hiring 10 new people on the most commercially successful Gawker sites,” Denton wrote in the e-mail. “But I know that’s scant consolation for the colleagues we’re losing and for those of you who have been enjoying the bonus windfalls from breakout stories.”

Gawker’s bonus system has provoked controversy and banter throughout the new-media world: the company pays most writers at a base rate but then adds a bonus for every thousand page views a single post pulls in.

Laying off staffers is a preventative measure, Denton said. “The credit crisis is clearly going to affect every sector of the economy,” he wrote. “Advertising buys typically plunge after the Christmas shopping season, and 2009 is obviously going to be exceptionally difficult. We have to prepare for the worst, now, rather than when the worst comes upon us.”

A portion of those layoffs will fall on the highly successful internet gossip site Valleywag. Here’s their response to having to lay off 60% of their staff:

We would never sugarcoat someone else’s layoffs. Why ours? Gawker Media, our publisher, has told me to cut Valleywag’s costs, in anticipation of an advertising recession. In response, I have laid off associate editors Nicholas Carlson and Jackson West and reporter Melissa Gira Grant. They have all been doing excellent work, breaking stories and needling Silicon Valley. But our ultimate boss, Nick Denton, has decided he can’t afford them. Paul Boutin and I will continue running the site. Denton’s memo:

I have some bad news. Here’s the heart of it: we are cutting 19 of our 133 editorial positions and suspending bonus payments at the start of next year. With the savings, we are increasing base pay and hiring 10 new people on the most commercially successful Gawker sites. But I know that’s scant consolation for the colleagues we’re losing and for those of you who have been enjoying the bonus windfalls from breakout stories.

You can guess the reason for these brutal measures: the recession.

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