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Paper Magazine Lays Off Staff Due to Economic Headwinds



The staff of Paper Magazine, the music and cultural publisher made famous by the 2014 “Break the Internet” photo shoot with Kim Kardashian, was laid off Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the situation. It’s the latest in a grim series of layoffs across the media industry.

The publisher did not respond to a request for comment.

The layoffs affect between 20 to 30 full-time staff. Their last day will be April 28, Adweek has learned. Editor in chief Justin Moran will remain with the company through May, although editorial operations will cease immediately.

The publisher itself is not shuttering, but is instead seeking to cut costs as it looks toward alternative options to remain in operation. One potential investor has expressed interest, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Publisher Tom Florio, who announced the layoffs, told staff that the advertising downturn of the last year prompted the decision. Paper follows in the footsteps of dozens of other digital media publishers, including Insider and BuzzFeed News, that have cut or shuttered titles in response to a depressed media buying climate.

The publisher generated 1.3 million page views, on average, in the first three months of the year, according to data from SimilarWeb, with 43% of traffic coming from organic search, followed by direct at 32% and social at 17%.

Florio, who previously worked as the publishing director of Vogue, Teen Vogue, Bon Appétit and Condé Nast Traveler, acquired Paper Magazine in 2017. He created the holding company ENTech Media Group LLC to house the title.

The publication, which began in 1984 as a downtown arts and style magazine, reports on music, pop culture and fashion. It monetizes primarily through on-site display advertising, as well as commerce and direct sponsorships, such as a 2021 activation with Google Shopping called 21×21.

In 2014, when the publisher released its iconic photoshoot with Kim Kardashian, itself a callback to a previous shoot involving the model Grace Jones, the accompanying article generated a traffic windfall, accruing nearly 16 million page views within a week.

The moment embodied publishers’ ability to ride the distribution provided by social platforms, particularly Facebook, to dizzying heights. The photoshoot also made Paper Magazine, a relatively small imprint, a nearly household name overnight and helped cement the emerging celebrity of Kardashian.

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