Tumult at City Pages


Film editor axed, cost-cutting memo leaked

“Everything we know about security is wrong,” reads the headline of this week’s cover story. Given today’s firing of film editor Rob Nelson — and considering other high-profile exits in recent months — one might get the impression the piece is about job security.

Thursday afternoon editor Kevin Hoffman sent out an email to staff announcing the cutting of Nelson’s position. Coming on the heels of exits by web editor Corey Anderson in August, managing editor Michael Tortorello in July, staff writer Mike Mosedale in June and senior editor Beth Hawkins in May, and the February sayonaras by editor Steve Perry, writer Britt Robson, and columnist Jim Walsh, to name a few, the note was decidedly terse:

From: Kevin Hoffman
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 2:01 PM
To: Everybody
Subject: Rob Nelson

The film editor position has been eliminated, and consequently, Rob Nelson no longer works for us. Please stop by my office if you have any questions.


Neither Hoffman nor Nelson was available for immediate comment, so it’s not clear why Nelson was let go or whether the paper will fill the gap by picking up syndicated stories from other papers owned by Village Voice Media. Budgetary concerns seem like a likely motive, as a memo sent to City Pages staff on Wednesday suggests.

Date: August 22, 2007
To: City Pages Staff
From: Michael Weir, Controller
Subject: Meals and Entertainment

We recently had the opportunity to evaluate City Pages performance metrics along with sister publications. This review indicated that City Pages meals and entertainment expenses were significantly higher than those with comparable revenue.

Moving forward we ask that meals and entertainment expense including the use of trade be pre approved by your manager. We also need everyone to exercise some discipline regarding these expenses. Client and staff meeting can be addressed on site and do not necessarily require food.

In order to minimize pre-approval paperwork, we ask that department managers understand that when you approve expense reports you are not only approving the requested reimbursement you are also validating that M&E expenses have been pre-approved.

Thanks for your cooperation!

Nelson, who has been with the paper since 1994, has won numerous awards for film criticism, including several from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and a Page One Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

More on this story as it develops…