Time Exec Cashed in Big Bonus Before Jumping to Obama's State Dept

Image: Time Exec Cashed in Big Bonus Before Jumping to Obama's State Dept

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 12:34 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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State Department official and former Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel has disclosed that he expects to receive up to a $250,000 bonus in early 2014 for his work at Time despite ordering the layoffs of colleagues during the bonus period, the Washington Times reports.

In September, President Barack Obama nominated Stengel to become the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. In 2012, Stengel earned just less than $1 million from Time — a base salary of $700,000 and an additional $289,000 in bonuses — according to the newspaper.

The newspaper uncovered the information in a disclosure form Stengel filed following his nomination. Stengel has declined to comment on the ethics filing, as has Time.

According to The New York Times, Stengel extended severance deals to two researchers, a staff writer, and three copy editors but cautioned that layoffs would be imminent if there were not enough voluntary buyouts.

Stengel may be one of only a few Time Inc. employees receiving a bonus. Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang wrote a memo earlier this year alerting staff that annual merit raises were being axed "with the long term health of the company in mind."

Stengel is at least the 24th journalist to join the Obama administration, The Wire reports.

Stengel will occupy the State Department with two other notable former journalists — Boston Globe political reporter and editor Glen Johnson and Washington Post writer Douglas Frantz, who also once worked for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Former Time reporter Jay Carney left the magazine and journalism in 2008 to become Vice President Joe Biden’s communications director and then ascended two years later to White House Press Secretary.

Media big wigs like Stengel have taken a page from Wall Street on executive compensation, Edward J. Wasserman, dean of the graduate school of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, tells the Washington Times. He notes that big payouts have become "standard practice."

"It offends our sense of justice," he said. "Some people are not just escaping, but walking away in terrific shape financially, whereas others get a fairly minimal severance and no safety cushion at all."

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