How The Atlantic, LA Times and others are staffing up

The header image shows a sign that says "We are hiring."

Newsroom jobs declined 23 percent over the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center, and tech giants including Google, Facebook and Amazon are gobbling up most of the digital ad growth. But some publishers — in some cases, helped by moneyed backers — are on hiring sprees. Here’s how five are staffing up.

The Atlantic
The magazine is about halfway through a plan to hire 100 people over 12 months, helped by funding from Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, which took a majority stake in the Atlantic last year. The additions will raise the overall headcount by nearly 30 percent, to 430.

Half the hires will go to editorial. Other hires will go to the product team, now led by former Facebook exec Alex Hardiman, which is expected to double in size. A small hiring and professional development unit, the Talent Lab, is designed to improve the Atlantic’s staff diversity.

Overall, the hiring is supposed to maintain the balance between editorial and the other sides of The Atlantic’s operation, including its consulting business, branded content studio, and product and design teams. “It turns out if you add more journalists, you need more product people,” Bob Cohn said.

Business Insider
The Axel Springer-owned digital publisher turned an unexpected profit during the first half of 2018 after its ad business and subscription businesses exceeded their revenue targets. In late August, chief content officer Nicholas Carlson reorganized the two brands, Insider and Business Insider, to make BI more about business and less about politics, defense and news in other categories. The company also plans to hire “dozens” more in the newsroom, including investigative reporters, as well as reporters who can expand coverage of areas, including investing, industrials and big agriculture.

The venture-backed publisher let go of nearly 120 people over the past year and is now looking to fill 55 roles on a rolling basis as it tries to diversify its revenues away from branded content. That means hiring programmatic ad salespeople, an area BuzzFeed recently entered; group creative directors and strategic planners; and people to head up business development and product strategy for BuzzFeed Media Brands, which oversees titles including Tasty, As/Is and Nifty.

Condé Nast
Condé Nast lost a reported $120 million in 2017, shut down print editions and is entertaining the sale of some of its titles. CEO Bob Sauerberg has five years to make the magazine publisher less dependent on print advertising and more focused on digital video ads, B2B services and data. That will mean hiring around 250 people over the next 16 months, Sauerberg said.

The hires are focused equally on video, agency and services, consumer products and data business. While publishers have faced challenges attracting top-shelf software engineering talent, Sauerberg said the company’s ambitions will be a selling point.

“Anybody who works in product or engineering, they want to work on new projects, things that haven’t been done before,” he said. “Our consumer platform is something that’s really ambitious. There are no benchmarks for it.”

The Los Angeles Times
The day he became the new owner of The Los Angeles Times, billionaire biotech entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong named Norman Pearlstine the paper’s top editor. Since then, the paper has put up more than two dozen job listings to help restore a paper Dr. Soon-Shiong said had been reduced to “a shadow of its former self” through years of layoffs and rapid turnover in the executive ranks.

The Times has made several executive additions, including Kris Vesselman as the first transformation editor. Most of the hires are meant to broaden its coverage, through correspondents in major American cities like New York and Seattle as well as Western Europe, South Korea, Singapore and China. Others hires will be in podcasting and video.

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