A New Direction For Forbes?

Now that the latest round of brutal layoffs is under way at the publication known as the Capitalist Tool, word on the street is that Forbes is looking to take its content in a new direction.

This week’s cuts — which were said to affect as many as 100 employees company wide — are just the latest in a series of changes Forbes has made in the past year. Last November, the company shuttered ForbesAuto.com, laying off its employees. A sister site, ForbesTraveler.com, remained open — until this week. We’re told that site has now been shut down as well, with its content being woven into Forbes.com.

Another round of layoffs hit the company in January, as Forbes prepared to merge its print and online editorial operations. Comparing lists of names of those cut then compared to this week, however, it became obvious that there was a shift in the weather. And speaking with some of those employees who got the boot yesterday, we knew we were on to something.

In his memo that went out to staff on Monday, Steve Forbes said the latest wave of changes were “strategic and organizational” and would allow the company “not only to weather these storms, but ultimately to emerge as a stronger company, well-positioned to expand and prosper in the years ahead.” We think that might mean moving away from link-bait Web articles and lists like the Scariest People of 2009 and Top Earning Dead Celebrities, and towards longer more substantial pieces focusing on the technology and health industries, which the magazine has always favored.

There has long been a division between the content that makes it to the slideshow-riddled pages of Forbes.com and the glossy pages of the Forbes magazine. But earlier this year, layoffs targeted many of the writers on the magazine side who may have had trouble producing for the Web, while this latest round of cuts ousted longtime Web writers and pageview drivers, younger staffers and part-time contributors. To us, this means Forbes is looking to redefine the content and is putting its support behind the upper levels of the masthead. Still, one staffer told us the company is looking to the survivors to produce just as much content as before, but with fewer people — a familiar request these days.

OR, we could be completely off. What do you think? Let’s get a discussion going on the comments.

It has been an extremely tough year for business magazines, and with Portfolio shuttered, BusinessWeek sold and Fortune cutting down the number of issues is publishes each year, bi-weekly Forbes was one of the survivors. This new round of layoffs and changes may keep it alive, but the question remains: what will it look like?

For a full (and growing) list of those laid off this week check out our running tally.