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BDG Eliminates Part-Time Model, Converting or Laying Off Affected Staff



The lifestyle and culture publisher Bustle Digital Group, which houses titles including Bustle, Gawker and Nylon, told employees Friday morning that it plans to transition from its current part-time staffing model into a full-time staffing model, according to a document obtained by Adweek.

The shift will affect brands within its Lifestyle portfolio, including Bustle, Nylon, Elite Daily and TZR, as well as the parenting-focused Romper. The conversion will graduate “dozens” of part-time roles into full-time positions, while eliminating roughly 10 part-time positions. 

BDG will maintain a small part-time program, although at reduced capacity. The change will take effect in the coming weeks.

“After many months of planning with our EICs and our operations staff, we’ve decided to embrace an in-house full-time writer model,” wrote Emma Rosenblum, the chief content officer at BDG, in the email. “We believe it will be easier to retain writers when more of them have the confidence and support of a full-time job.”

The decision stems from a dissatisfaction with the part-time model that BDG had historically employed, according to the document. The structure forced editors to perpetually recruit new writers, and their capped hours made it difficult for the editorial titles to produce timely stories and updates.

The shift in hiring strategy comes at a critical juncture for the publisher. 

A larger downturn in the digital advertising market has spurred layoffs across the technology and media industries. In September, BDG shuttered its technology title Input and eliminated most of the staff at the women’s lifestyle outfit Mic, a round of cuts that resulted in 19 sunset roles.

The publisher has also been the object of an acquisition effort by Group Black, the Black media collective and accelerator, according to reporting from The Wall Street Journal. In certain instances, companies will shed roles or trim divisions to make themselves more appealing to prospective suitors.

The publisher denies that the macroeconomic climate or purported acquisition efforts played any role in its decision, according to chief executive Bryan Goldberg.

“​​This has very little impact on our costs one way or another,” Goldberg told Adweek via email. “But we are certain it will drive greater productivity and waste far less of our editors’ time.”

BDG has characterized the transition as part of a preexisting strategy from Rosenblum to improve the quality of reporting the publisher produces. The staff offered full-time employment will receive benefits, salaries and other perks, a set of incentives the publisher hopes will improve retention and company morale.

“We have been planning this for many months, and we should have done it sooner than that,” Goldberg told Adweek in an email. “The part-time model is limiting and inefficient.”

At BDG, part-time staff are represented by its union, which is backed by the Writers Guild of America East. BDG management voluntarily recognized the union in November 2020, but the two parties have been unable to agree on a new contract since then.

A union representative was not immediately available to offer comment.

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