Giving credence to yesterday's rumor, Automobile magazine's Michigan offices have been closed, much of its staff has been let go, and the Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings has been fired. This comes along with Source Interlink (now called TEN or The Enthusiast Network), owner of Motor Trend, apparently closing other magazines.
Now former Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings told me this afternoon that the rumors about Source Interlink and their content chief Angus Mackenzie were true, that she was "surprised" by the timing of the announcement but not entirely surprised that it did happen.
"It's business," she said, noting that Source Interlink tried to move the magazine to Los Angeles a decade ago until she says she intervened.
She says Automobile will close its Ann Arbor offices, leaving only a handful of employees, moving a few "cherry picked" people to an office in Royal Oak and moving the magazine to be closer to Motor Trend. None of those people will be copy editors, apparently.
"I don't think Angus ever believed you needed copy editors, and I said 'that's why you have typos in your column Angus,'" she joked.
Deputy Editor Joe Dematio will remain in the advertising office with a few other staff, while Mike Floyd will take over as Editor-in-Chief.
"I love this magazine so much and I really felt that it was in good hands with Joe, and if they had made him editor I wouldn't have had a problem at all other than the people they let go," Jennings added. "That upsets me. I don't know, I worry about it, I worry about the future, but it's all right as long as Joe is here."
It's possible this might have something to do with Source Interlink's long-delayed deal with MSN.com and that by making Mike Floyd editor they'll take the brand entirely online.
Jennings was surprisingly upbeat considering everything that happened and expressed she was proud that so many people in the industry — including Car And Driver's Eddie Alterman — had gone through her offices.
"We knew something bad was going to happen when those guys [Source Interlink] bought it. And I said 'don't anyone worry about this, you're really good at what you do.'"
UPDATE: Despite initially characterizing it as "90%" of the staff, it appears that only about 50% of the full-time staff were fired, along with an unknown number of contributors. A source tells us that they did fire every female member of the staff. They also reported that the entire Tampa, Florida office was let go.
UPDATE 2: Source Interlink is now "The Enthusiast Network," as you can see here.