Wall Street Journal Lays Off More Online Staffers; Gawker Media Slashes Staff Too

(UPDATE 10/7, 7:15 PM: I am told that the Journal has cut at least a few additional editorial staffers besides the ones listed below. Not getting much data beyond that as of right now.)

News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal today let go of at least two online staffers, insiders report. They are Cybele Weisser, the personal finance editor, and Laura Lorber, its small business editor.

A spokeswoman declined to comment, as did other Journal executives that would respond to email inquiries. Attempts to reach the affected staffers were not immediately successful.

It’s not clear whether these cuts are isolated, or whether something larger is brewing at the Journal or even throughout Dow Jones. But remember, for what it's worth, that the last major round of layoffs within Dow Jones, which happened in mid-July, were preceded by a smaller cut of five high-ish level online Journal staffers.

While the ad environment’s already been tough this year for all business publications, including BusinessWeek, there’s a broad expectation that current banking woes mean key financial advertisers will be pulling back on their spending. (If, that is, the brands aren't disappearing outright.) This is not a time when, given your druthers, you’d choose to have the phrase “Wall Street” in the title of your publication.

Meanwhile, as reported elsewhere, Gawker Media today announced it is laying off 19 staffers (although Gawker impresario Nick Denton says 10 staffers will be added to sites it owns that are growing). Denton also said he would suspend paying staffers bonuses when traffic goals are exceeded at least for the first quarter of 2009. By way of explanation, he cited a conviction that a downturn would hit hard in 2009.

If this is happening at a Web-only company with low costs (ask any past or former Gawker Media employee about their pay, but first prepare yourself for an earful) and impressive traffic, one has to wonder: what shoes are about to drop on, well, just about any- and everything else?