I find the news that C&EN conducted a layoff last week to be terribly disappointing. It's clear (according to Derek Lowe's sources) that the falloff in ad revenue is playing a role in the move. I think that, before I would lay off staff, I would have moved to ask ACS to change the structure of its support of the magazine. It is my understanding that the magazine's printing/structural costs are paid for by ACS, while the staff is paid for by ad revenue. Why couldn't ACS decide to take on some of the cost of salaries? Certainly that would have helped keep experienced people on staff.
I think the last ten to twenty years have shown that it's quite possible to cut your way to temporary profitability, but it's extremely difficult to cut your way to quality. I think that's been true of the chemical industry, I think that's been true of the pharmaceutical industry and it's probably true of magazines as well.
Chemistry is such a broad and important field that it needs a meeting place. For now, we have the ACS. (If the American Chemical Society didn't exist, we'd have to invent it.) C&EN is how that Society informs itself - cutting its already extremely hardworking, incredibly knowledgeable staff strikes me as the wrong move.
But, of course, I count a lot of its staff as friends, so I would say that, wouldn't I?