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Editorial layoffs hit Wired News

Iconic Web site, which broke ground in mid-'90s with original news and commentary, turns to freelance writers and wire service stories.

Lycos has cut back the editorial staff at Wired News as part of a restructuring of the online media company's Web sites.

The layoffs, announced to employees on Monday, leave the iconic technology Web site Wired.com with no employees bearing the title "staff writer." In all, three reporters, an unknown number of production employees and two business-side people lost their jobs. The two remaining staff writers had their titles changed to editor.

The shakeup comes almost a year after Daum Communications, a large South Korean Web firm, bought Lycos for $95 million. Lycos' other U.S. operations include stock market site Quote.com and Tripod user-created Web sites.

Evan Hansen, Wired News editor in chief and a former editor at CNET News.com, said in an e-mailed statement that some management and publishing functions have been "consolidated" from San Francisco to Lycos' offices in Waltham, Mass. "In addition, some editorial positions have been eliminated and others reassigned," Hansen said. "These cost management measures are expected to improve our bottom line without impacting daily Web site operations."

For the last few years, Wired News has relied on numerous freelance contributors and wire service articles for a large part of its daily news coverage, a trend that's likely to continue following this week's layoffs. Wired News retains the exclusive rights to republish content from Wired Magazine, a separate publication owned by New York-based magazine conglomerate Conde Nast.

"They've done a spectacular job of staying afloat through a lot of turbulence over the past few years," said Jon Rochmis, an executive editor at Wired News until 2003. "They let some extraordinarily dedicated and talented people go. The worst part is that any time you lose a unique voice, journalism as a whole suffers."

Wired News is the successor to HotWired.com, a news and commentary site that pioneered dynamically generated Web pages, user subscriptions, online chats and banner ads a decade ago. Wired Ventures eventually sold the print magazine to Conde Nast and its Web sites (including Wired News, Webmonkey and Hotbot.com) to Lycos.