Journalists at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show last week, who were covering the show for The Enthusiast Network (TEN) titles like POWDER, Snowboarder, SURFER, and more, were suddenly pulled from the show floor and told to attend a meeting the next day at the Carlsbad, California, headquarters.
On Feb. 1, American Media Inc. (AMI)—the parent of Men’s Journal, Muscle & Fitness, National Enquirer, and other celebrity journalism titles—announced that they acquired TEN: Publishing’s Adventure Sports Network (ASN), including aforementioned brands and 10 others. But as of today, AMI has much bigger issues to contend with after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos accused the National Enquirer of blackmailing him with revealing photos. How or if this will impact the acquisition or any of AMI’s other titles remains unclear.
The day of the acquisition announcement, there were two meetings. In one meeting, some employees were fired. In a second meeting, the rest learned they were being retained. Stab Magazine reported that more than 50 percent of TEN’s staff was cut, including writer Ben Waldron, sales manager Brent Reilly, photojournalist Grant Ellis, and publisher Tony Perez—all from SURFER. Shop Eat Surf reported that the staff of Transworld Moto and BMX were completely cut. Matt Hansen, POWDER executive editor, was the only staff member cut from that title.
“I urge you all to subscribe to an institution of journalism, and treat yourself to the beautiful gift of a magazine,” Hansen wrote in a Facebook post. “We are under attack, and if we are not careful, the only thing available to us will have a shady agenda attached.”
TEN laid off dozens back in 2016, and several Glass Door reviews say that the company seems to cut staff frequently. ASM and AMI executives have not said anything about layoffs as part of the acquisition. In fact, Norb Garrett, president of ASN, said in a news release that, “ASN has built a portfolio of the most enduring brands in the adventure sports media landscape. Under American Media’s leadership, we will continue to grow our multi-platform reach across digital, social, print, and experiential events.”
POWDER has built its reputation over 48 years of fueling skiers’ stoke for finding lines in soft, fresh tracks around the world. SURFER, Bike, and Snowboarder have fed the same level of inspiration for their sports for nearly five decades each. But with skeleton staffs and a new owner facing fresh allegations, the futures of the legacy magazines are unclear.
“We grew up on these publications and they mean the world to us,” Teton Gravity Research (TGR) Co-Founder Steve Jones said. “I still even to this day get exited when my new POWDER or SURFER shows up on my desk. They’re such a core part of the industry and an inspiration to so many people. I would be really emotional and crushed if they went away.”
A former writer for AMI titles, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed disappointment in the acquisition. The writer said, “When magazines aren’t given the resources to prioritize quality storytelling for their readers over serving the short term interests of fleeting advertisers, whether it’s in print, digital, or social, the value of the overall product plummets and everybody loses another voice to cheap, mediocre media.”