US media sees massive job cuts amid falling newsroom employment

CNN, NBC, MSNBC, Buzzfeed and other outlets also cut staff. (Representative)

New York:

From CNN to the Washington Post, the US media is going through tough times as a slew of outlets announced layoffs this winter amid fears of an economic downturn. Vox Media, owner of the Vox and The Verge websites as well as New York Magazine and its online platforms, announced on Friday that it was laying off 7% of its staff.

The news follows layoffs at CNN, NBC, MSNBC, Buzzfeed and other outlets.

In a memo to staff on Friday, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff announced “the difficult decision to eliminate approximately 7% of our staff positions across all departments due to the challenging economic environment affecting our business and our industry”.

The memo, which was confirmed to AFP by Vox Media, said the affected employees would be notified of their dismissal within the next 15 minutes. This would represent some 130 people out of the 1,900 that make up the group.

Meghan McCarron, an award-winning journalist who spent more than nine years at Eater, a food website owned by Vox Media, tweeted on Friday that she was among those fired – despite being 37 weeks pregnant.

“My partner and I are so excited to be parents,” McCarron said. “I can’t really process the degree of uncertainty that we are currently facing,” she added.

A Vox spokesperson told AFP they could not comment on specific cases, but employees were being offered “competitive severance packages”, including additional severance pay for those who had ” short-term planned parental leave”.

Journalists who have been fired from other organizations in recent weeks have also taken to Twitter to express their anger, dismay or gratitude to their colleagues, as they begin looking for new jobs.

“I’ll figure out my next move. I’m a data journalist, but I also write and produce,” tweeted Emily Siegel, who was fired after five years as an investigative reporter at NBC. “I would love to continue doing this work. My (direct messages) are open.”

“Under pressure for a long time”

While the media layoffs weren’t as dramatic as those at tech giants such as Microsoft and Google, which announced on Friday they were cutting an additional 12,000 jobs, they were a consequence of falling ad revenue. in a gloomy economic climate, said Chris Roush, dean of the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

“For a lot of them, they grew and broadened the hope that they were going to be able to grow their audience, or either their readers, or their viewers to a certain level,” Roush told AFP. “And that just didn’t happen and it’s unlikely to happen given what’s going on in the economy.”

Newsroom employment has seen a steady decline in the United States, from 114,000 to 85,000 journalists between 2008 and 2020, according to a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center, with local media particularly hard hit.

“Journalism has been under pressure for a long time, and a number of companies seem to think now is the right time to cut their labor costs, which hurts both journalists and journalism,” he said. said the Writers Guild of America, East in a statement to AFP. .

The union includes reporters from NBC and MSNBC. The two outlets, which declined a request for comment from AFP, said goodbye to some 75 employees, according to US media.

A similar announcement is dreaded at The Washington Post, where CEO Fred Ryan warned last month that “a number of positions” will be cut in the coming weeks, adding that the layoffs would affect “a single-digit percentage of our base. of employees” of some 2,500 people. Hiring for other positions may continue, the newspaper said.

The Washington Post Magazine, the newspaper’s Sunday supplement that won two Pulitzer Prizes, was shut down in December as part of what editor Sally Buzbee described in a memo as the “global and digital transformation” of the log.

And Deputy Chief Media Officer Nancy Dubuc told her staff on Friday that the company was for sale.

“Steep and secular decline”

In recent months, CNN has laid off about several hundred workers out of a total of some 4,000 people, according to US media. CNN did not confirm these figures to AFP.

The cuts came as the company underwent restructuring following a merger between Warner Media, which includes CNN and HBO Max, and Discovery. The merger results in the creation of Warner Bros. Discovery of the mega conglomerate.

After the merger, CNN’s new parent company abruptly unplugged the network’s $100 million streaming service, CNN+.

Naveen Sarma, senior media analyst at S&P Global Rating, noted a “steep, secular decline” in traditional broadcast and cable television in the United States, leading to a dramatic decline in pay-TV subscriptions.

β€œIt’s a constant struggle for all these companies to come through,” Mr. Sarma said.

Roush of Quinnipiac University says the changes have been particularly painful for small media.

“CNN, Washington Post, those aren’t going away, but a small business, they have bigger problems, because they’re just smaller and not as established as a media brand,” he said. he declares.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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