Radar staff cuts create shutdown fears as layoffs also hit sister publications

The popular entertainment and gossip website Radar Online was decimated by cutbacks within the parent company’s digital operations that have left it struggling to find copy to fill out the site.

American Media on Friday took an ax to the digital staffers of many of its celebrity titles, including OK!, Us Weekly and In Touch. But Radar Online, a joint venture with Ron Burkle’s private equity company the Yucaipa Cos., was hardest hit, sources said.

One source said nearly all of Radar’s digital staffers were laid off, giving rise to speculation the site could be closed entirely.

An American Media spokesman denied that Radar Online was going dark, however.

“Absolutely not true, the site is not shutting down, not temporarily, not at all,” he said.

But the cutbacks appear to have hamstrung the site’s ability to post new content. The only new story posted Tuesday was an evergreen about shows to binge-watch. And the site posted just two stories on Sunday and again on Monday.

Across the company, up to 23 digital staffers at American Media were given the heave-ho, according to Business Insider.

“Like many in the industry who have been negatively impacted by algorithm changes at Google, Facebook and others, American Media is right-sizing the cost base to the revenue base, with strategic decisions that improve efficiencies and profitability,” the company said in a statement.

The company made similar cuts late last month at Men’s Journal as part of a plan to relocate the magazine to Carlsbad, California. American Media had purchased a bunch of sports-enthusiast titles also located in Carlsbad from the Enthusiast Network last year, including Transworld Snowboarding.

The media company has been cutting staff amid a cash crunch that has not been solved by the planned sale of the National Enquirer to James Cohen, chief executive of the magazine wholesale operation Hudson News, for $100 million. The deal, announced in April 2019, has yet to close for unknown reasons.

 

The sale was supposed to have allowed Chatham Asset Management — the hedge fund that owns 80 percent of the equity of American Media as one of its big investments — to satisfy some of its investors who were not happy about the supermarket tabloid’s numerous scandals, including paying off women who claim to have had affairs with President Trump.

Last year, the tabloid and its then-editorial director Dylan Howard were accused by Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos of trying to blackmail him by threatening to disclose additional damaging pictures of himself with his then mistress, Lauren Sanchez. (Howard has since taken on a new role.)

The Enquirer tried to break the story of the affair before Bezos pre-empted them and then allegedly threatened to publish more damaging photos before Bezos went public with his blackmail claim.

In its latest bid to raise cash, American Media sold the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding exhibitions and shows, along with Muscle & Fitness, Flex and Muscle & Fitness Hers magazines to Arizona businessman Jake Wood. One source estimated the sale at $70 million.

That was some $30 million less than Cohen was offering to pay for the National Enquirer — but he’s still not forked over the cash. However, nobody thinks Cohen is in any kind of rush to buy the title, in a move viewed as more of a favor to a longtime business associate, David Pecker, American Media’s CEO, who was a big booster of Trump.

Chatham Asset gave the company an infusion of cash at the end of last year. American Media’s fiscal year ends March 31.

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