The Herald Sun is reporting on Thursday that travel guide powerhouse Lonely Planet has laid off 100 workers from its Melbourne headquarters, including its entire editorial staff of editors, writers and cartographers. The employees were told that they had been made redundant, and further staffing cuts are expected to follow at Lonely Planet’s London and Oakland offices.
This follows a change in ownership last year when BBC Worldwide sold the Lonely Planet brand to American media firm NC2 Media, and raises speculation about what the future holds for Lonely Planet. As one Lonely Planet employee put it to Melbourne’s Herald Sun, NC2 Media has “made it clear that they were no longer in the business of content creation.”
These types of troubles are not new in the publishing industry, as the sector struggles to adapt to digital content delivery and changing mediums. Lonely Planet has long been reliant upon freelance writers and editors, but it remains to be seen whether this round of layoffs is related solely to outsourcing or is foreshadowing a transition to an entirely freelance staff operating in a digital-only realm.
Some will recall the story of Frommer’s last year in which the iconic travel guide publisher was sold to Google, who announced in March 2013 that production of the company’s print guides would cease. Only one month later Google sold the company back to its founder, Arthur Frommer, who announced just this week that production would resume on the company’s print travel guides.
As more and more content providers retreat behind a paywall and even well-managed firms like Google struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing world of content production, it’s clear that the industry-wide turmoil will continue.