More layoffs at the Houston Chronicle; Modern Luxury for sale
When the Houston Chronicle announced massive layoffs last year, the Houston media howled in dismay and came down on the side of their fellow journalists. (Thank you, Houston Press, for all the supportive things you wrote after I was part of the bloodletting.)
But when more layoffs occurred at the Chron last week, no one outside the incredibly shrinking daily took note, which either says layoffs everywhere have become commonplace — or the plight of newspapers is old news.
We hear that around 10 staffers in features, online, neighborhood news and advertising departments got their walking papers. The list includes design writer Mary Vuong, one of the only Chron reporters who speaks Vietnamese, MomHouston writer Francisca Ortega, 29-95 music writer Sara Cress, and neighborhood news web producer Samira Rizvi.
That doesn't count a slew of other departing staffers, including star legal reporter Mary Flood who is leaving the paper to join Androvett Legal Media's Houston office. She will provide public relations, marketing, advertising and crisis communications to lawyers and law firms. Flood made her mark in journalism circles with her coverage of the Enron debacle, so it seemed fitting that one of her last stories for the paper was coverage of the Supreme Court ruling that instructed a lower court to review former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling's conviction. She hopes to continue to write a legal blog for the Chronicle website.
In what appears to be a strange layoff policy, a Chronicle copy editor was told he could stay on unless a counterpart in San Antonio decides to move to Houston and take the job. The Hearst Corporation, owner of the Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, is consolidating the two papers into virtually one; much of the editing and layout of both papers will be done in Houston using much of the same copy.
Another Houston publication, Houston Modern Luxury, will likely change owners soon. Its parent company, Modern Luxury Media, is on the auction block, reports peHUB, a website aimed at the private equity community. As many as 10 potential investors, including the magazine's founder and former CEO Michael Kong, have expressed interest in the company, which has nearly 30 publications in 13 major markets.
Kong once owned 40 percent of Modern Luxury but, according to The New York Post, defaulted on $120 million in debt and was ousted from the company. GE Business Financial Services and NewStar Financial, Modern Luxury’s lenders, now control the company, reports peHUB.