While his employers had their flaws, he said at the time, he felt fortunate that “they’re not the kind of company that will lay you off once things get tough.”
Unknown to Galuszka, he was working on borrowed time.
A few weeks later, in July, after returning to work from a family vacation, Galuszka was blindsided. He and his annual salary, one of the largest chunks of the struggling monthly’s fixed operating costs, were being eliminated. (Although Galuszka’s salary was unavailable, Media General was offering $70,000 for the position in 2000.)
Lower-level editors are absorbing his duties. There is no word on whether Galuszka will be replaced.
Media General spokesman Raphael Seligmann declines to elaborate on the situation. But “this was not a cost-cutting move,” he says. It also doesn’t signal the imminent closure of the magazine. “Media General fully supports Virginia Business and its capable and experienced staff,” he says. “We are not planning on pulling the plug.”
Today, Galuszka says only: “I was hired to upgrade the magazine’s editorial quality. I believe I did so. I wish the magazine well.”
Veterans of the magazine who asked to remain anonymous aren’t quite so confident. Galuszka’s dismissal “is just about all they can do,” to keep Virginia Business afloat, says one. “From here on in, they have to do everything right.”
Steady advertising shortfalls since early this year have caused the magazine to slash its size, reduce the quality of its paper and cut its budget for freelancers.
Across the country, business publications are struggling to survive the weak economy. Pilot Media Companies, the parent company of Style Weekly, closed Richmond’s weekly business journal, Inside Business, in December.
Virginia Business staffers “have been given every sort of assurance that we will continue publishing,” one says. But many of them are wondering why Galuszka was sacked. He improved the magazine, one editor says.
Galuszka, a former reporter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, fought against his sales staff’s demands to return to more advertiser-friendly news stories that characterized the magazine’s early days. After his freelance budget was cut in recent months, he started writing more articles and began taking photos that he once assigned to professionals.
“He wasn’t the perfect Media General employee,” a former colleague says, “but he certainly picked up his end of the slack.”
A week after Galuszka cleared out his desk, mail arrived from the Association of Area Business Publications. It congratulated Galuszka, notifying him that Virginia Business won two medals from the association for cover stories in 2002. — Tim Loughran
(Full disclosure: Tim Loughran sold two freelance stories to Virginia Business in 2000 and applied for the vacant executive editor position earlier that same year.)
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