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Layoffs At Salon.com

The changes added up to the elimination of 25 jobs in the editorial, technology and sales departments.

The layoffs came in spite of recent editorial success and high praise for Salon’s work this year. The site’s traffic hit record levels during the post-election battle for the White House, with 50 million page views in November. The site also garnered the first award for general excellence from the Online News Association, a group examining the role of journalists on the Internet.

Despite the good news, shares of Salon’s stock have remained below $2 since June — after a high last year of $15.13 a share — and the company expects third quarter revenues of just over $2 million, down from $3 million last year.

“The market is demanding profitability and we’re committed to get there as quickly as possible in 2001,” Michael O’Donnell, Salon’s president and CEO said in a memo Monday. “This was a difficult decision because it involves talented people who have worked very hard to make Salon a success.”

Among the difficulties is half of the site’s advertisers are other dot-com companies, a group O’Donnell told The San Francisco Chronicle is a shrinking market. Salon relies on advertising for nearly 90 percent of its revenue.

Yesterday’s layoffs aren’t the site’s first — Salon cut 13 jobs in June.

Although award-winning crime news site APBnews.com was nearly pronounced dead over the summer, employees carried on after September, when new owner SafetyTips.com breathed new life into its fading finances.

That is, until the site died again.

APBnews.com employees had not received paychecks in several weeks, according to a story on Inside.com last week.

Finally, APBnews Managing Editor Ed Levine sent an e-mail to his staff last Friday saying the end was near.

“Sadly, APBnews.com ceased operations today,” Inside.com quotes Levine as saying. “It’s been fun and a real pleasure to work with all of you. We did some great things together…”

But Executive Editor Hoag Levins said Monday news of APBnews’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.

“Inside[.com] played the story far harder than is justified,” Levins told The Silicon Alley Daily.

Levins said the e-mail from Levine was was meant to tell freelancers that the newsroom could experience a shake-up if paychecks didn’t shore up soon.

Company spokesman Joe Krakoviak said employees will be fully compensated for the missed checks by the end of the week.

And Levins told the Daily he expects the site’s 24 employees to stick around.

“We’re like that head in the Terminator,” Levins said, “we’re crawling forward by our teeth. And we have a history of this wild and crazy thing.”

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