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Ex-Time editor Stengel got big bonus while laying off staff, heading to State Dept.
Not long before he left his job as managing editor at Time magazine for a post at the State Department, Richard Stengel delivered some bad but not unexpected news — the magazine needed to cut staff to close a budget gap.
But the cuts apparently only went so far. They didn’t extend to the more than quarter-million-dollar bonus that Time had doled in 2012 out to Mr. Stengel on top of his $700,000 base salary, records obtained by The Washington Times show.
And while Time Inc. has moved to freeze pay and lay off hundreds of employees this year, Mr. Stengel estimates that he is still in line to receive another bonus worth $100,000 to $250,000, according to a recent government ethics filing.
The $289,000 bonus last year, as well as the anticipated bonus to be paid out early next year, came to light in a disclosure form Mr. Stengel filed following his nomination to undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department. The White House announced the nomination in September.
Edward J. Wasserman, dean of the graduate school of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, said such payouts show how media organizations have taken a lesson on executive compensation from Wall Street.
“It offends our sense of justice,” he said. “Some people are not just escaping, but walking away in terrific shape financially, whereas others get a fairly minimal severance and no safety cushion at all.”
But such deals also are hardly unusual, Mr. Wasserman added.
“It’s become standard practice in the industry,” he said, adding that he feels a bit like “old school moralist wagging my finger” when he considers his reaction to such deals.
Indeed, The Washington Times reported last year on a similar situation of a media executive disclosing a big payout while news staff either feared for their jobs or lost them.
When Maurice Jones left his job as publisher of The Virginian-Pilot to take a position in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he disclosed more than a quarter-million dollars in bonus compensation around the time the newspaper was cutting dozens of jobs.
The New York Times reported in January that Mr. Stengel was seeking two researchers, one staff writer and three copy editors to accept severance deals, but added that he would use layoffs if not enough volunteers accepted.
“Time Inc. is undertaking a company-wide restructuring,” Mr. Stengel wrote earlier this year in an internal memo, which was first reported on by The Wall Street Journal. “As part of this cost savings initiative, we need to make some cuts in our editorial staff.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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