September 17, 2013 in Business

MSN making more cuts in outside staff

Reduction could mean end to original news content
Janet I. Tu Seattle Times
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MSN gets about 480 million unique visitors worldwide a month and had been in the same perennial money-losing Online Services division as Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. That division lost $1.28 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30.

MSN is cutting a substantial number of its freelancers, contractors and vendors – all apparently in a move away from providing original content as Microsoft focuses on becoming a devices and services company.

Notices were given this week about the cuts, effective by the end of September.

Microsoft declined to say how many people will lose their jobs.

Some who have been affected estimated that at least 100 people working for the MSN Entertainment channel have been cut. Other cuts reportedly range across MSN’s channels, including News and Money.

“Bloggers, freelance writers, producers, as well as editors, are being let go left and right,” said one person affected by the cuts.

Full-time Microsoft employees do not appear to be affected. But MSN has many contractors, vendors and freelancers who provide, edit or produce much of the news portal’s content.

Microsoft declined to say how many full-time employees, and how many contractors, work at MSN.

The reduction comes about a year after Microsoft had said it was boosting its support for news after the company’s breakup with NBC over their joint venture.

Microsoft said earlier this week the cuts are part of the larger companywide reorganization announced in July intended to transform the software company into one that provides devices and services.

Some people affected by the cuts questioned whether the full-time hiring would indeed happen or, if so, whether any of the contractors losing their positions would be hired back.

“The vibe at MSN is that another round of cuts is coming,” one person said.

The people who spoke with the Seattle Times did so on condition of anonymity.

Others said they have seen some contract positions turned into full-time ones, but that those positions involve work such as converting news from wire services into the MSN template, not original work.

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