Horrible, unfunny rumors that The Onion is shutting down some of their regional print editions were being confirmed and denied all over the internet today. Gawker reported that a source told them the publication has "already laid off editorial and sales staff for its Los Angeles and San Francisco print editions, which will cease publication. Tomorrow's editions of The Onion are said to be the last ones for those markets."
While a FishbowlNY employee declared that a "well-placed source tells me that Onion rumor is totally false," we have now obtained a memo that CEO Steve Hannah sent out about the SF/LA offices. Bad news area men and women: it confirms the SF and LA shutdowns—however it also optimistically states that there are no plan to shut down other print editions (yet). Read it in full after the jump.
As most of you have heard through the very twisted grapevine by now, we have decided to shut down our print operations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Both staffs were informed in person yesterday that their last editions would be published this week. It is an unpleasant task to discontinue print in those two cities—and to lay off the good people who worked hard to make them profitable—but I believe it is the wise business decision to make.
At the quarterly Board meeting in Chicago two weeks ago, we took a hard look at the company’s business operations in this very tough economic environment. Overall, we are weathering the storm, and, as you know, we have avoided taking many of the draconian measures employed by other media companies. Unfortunately, despite healthy readership in both Los Angeles and San Francisco (readership has actually risen despite our reduction in copies in recent months) the advertising in both cities has been abysmal.
This stands in stark contrast to other parts of our business—both the majority of our print markets (Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, Denver, Boulder, for example) as well as our rapidly growing digital enterprises (theonion.com, avclub.com, the Onion News Network and Decider.com—which are growing nicely and in some cases dramatically. So, at the end of the day, you have to make a decision whether to pump money into parts of the company that are straining us financially (LA and SF print) or reroute that capital into the areas of the company that are growing in size and value.
We chose the latter.
We love our print publications. They are the foundation of the Onion and, in the majority of our markets, they make us money. We have no plans at this time to cease publication in any of our other markets.