A series of cuts in the American media amid economic gloom
CNN, Vox Media, Washington Post… the winter is marked by a series of new layoffs in the American media amid a gloomy economic climate.
“I’m part of the team fired by @NBCInvestigates (NBC) (…) I’ll miss it, but I’m grateful for my time here.”
Several journalists from the editorial staff of NBC, the same MSNBC group, or even CNN took the lead and announced their firings on social media, like Emily Siegel, who declined to comment after the tweet on Wednesday. December
On Friday, employees at Vox Media, which owns Vox, The Verge, SBNation and, as of 2019, the influential New York Magazine, received the same email from their boss, Jim Bankoff, announcing the “difficult decision to lay off.” 7% of our employees in all departments, including the editorial office, “due to the difficult economic environment”.
– “15 minutes” –
About 130 of the 1,900 affected employees were notified by a second message “within 15 minutes,” according to that email.
Several of them have expressed anger or concern on social media, such as Meghan McCarron, a journalist for “nine-and-a-half years” at the catering site, who was fired at “37 weeks” of pregnancy. Vox Media responded to AFP that the group offers “competitive severance packages” including extra weeks in the event of unavoidable parental leave.
If the layoffs do not have the scope of the social plans of large tech groups such as Google on Friday (12,000 job cuts), the American media is also affected by “the decline in advertising revenues and the slowdown in the economy,” he explained to AFP. Chris Roush, professor of journalism and dean of the school of communication at Quinnipiac University (Connecticut).
“Many of them have grown and expanded in the hope of reaching a certain level of audience. This has not happened and is unlikely to happen against the economic backdrop,” he adds.
– Fewer journalists…
According to a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center, newsroom employment in the U.S. fell from 114,000 to 85,000 journalists between 2008 and 2020.
“Journalism has been under pressure for a long time, and a number of companies think now is a good time to cut labor costs,” lamented the Writers Guild of America East, which oversees unions at NBC and MSNBC. According to American media, 75 employees have been fired at two media outlets that did not respond to AFP.
There’s also an ominous announcement in the Washington Post, where publishing director Fred Ryan warned in mid-December that 2,500 jobs would be cut in the first quarter of 2023, representing a “single-digit percentage” but not “net.” reduction”.
The newspaper’s editorial board, which was bought by Jeff Bezos in 2013, had already learned that the Sunday magazine supplement, which won two Pulitzer Prizes in 2008 and 2010, was ending by Christmas 2022.
– Competition –
In CNN, the numbers not confirmed by the chain, according to the American media (more than 4,000), the total layoffs in December would reach several hundred workers. They came as part of a reorganization following the merger between WarnerMedia (CNN, HBO Max) and Discovery, which created media and streaming giant Warner Bros. Discovery.
The group, which has witnessed strategic turmoil, dropped its paid streaming service CNN+ in April, just a month later.
Naveen Sarma, director of US media and telecommunications at S&P Global Ratings, said that with years of declining viewership and pay-cable subscriptions and competition from platforms like Netflix, “there’s an ongoing struggle for these companies.”
For CNN or the Washington Post, Chris Roush explains, “they won’t go away, but a smaller company will have more problems because it’s smaller and it’s not built as a media brand.” He specifically mentions Buzzfeed, which laid off 12% of its staff in December, or Vice Media, whose CEO Nancy Dubuc announced to employees on Friday that she was considering selling the group.