Big media companies are now laying off workers. ANI
It began with tech companies in the United States, most recently Google, announcing a series of lay-offs.
Now, the US media is witnessing a slew of pink slips.
On Friday, Vox Media announced it was cutting its staff by seven per cent.
The announcement of the owner of the Vox and The Verge websites as well as the landmark New York Magazine and its online platforms sent fresh shivers through the media industry.
But why is this happening? And which companies have made cuts?
Let’s take a closer look:
Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff in a note to employees announced “the difficult decision to eliminate roughly seven percent of our staff roles across departments due to the challenging economic environment impacting our business and industry.”
The memo, which was confirmed to AFP by Vox Media, said the affected employees were going to be notified of being let go within the next 15 minutes.
That would mean some 130 out of the group’s 1,900 staff.
The union representing Vox Media employees said it was “furious” over the announcement.
“We’re furious at the way the company has approached these layoffs, and are currently discussing how to best serve those who just lost their jobs,” the union said in a tweet.
Meghan McCarron, an award-winning journalist who spent more than nine years at Eater, a food website owned by Vox Media, tweeted Friday she was among those laid off — while 37 weeks pregnant.
“My partner and I are so excited to become parents,” McCarron posted. “I can’t really process the amount of uncertainty we’re now facing,” she added.
A Vox spokesperson told AFP they could not comment on specific cases, but that employees were offered “competitive severance packages,” including extra severance pay for those with “a near-term upcoming parental leave planned.”
Why is this happening?
The job cuts come as more and more companies fear an economic downturn.
They also come in the aftermath of rising inflation and the Federal Reserve’s response of raising interest rates, as per The Guardian.
While the media layoffs were not as dramatic as those rocking tech giants such as Microsoft and Google, which announced Friday it was cutting 12,000 more jobs, they were a consequence of falling advertising revenue amid 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 expanded on the expectation that they were going to be able to grow their audience, or either readers or viewers to a certain level,” Roush told AFP.” And that just hasn’t happened and is unlikely to happen given what’s happening in the economy.”
Newsroom employment has seen a steady decline in the United States, falling from 114,000 to 85,000 journalists between 2008 and 2020, according to a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center, with local media hit especially hard.
“Journalism has been under pressure for a long time, and a number of companies seem to think this is an opportune time to reduce their labour costs – hurting both journalists and journalism,” the Writers Guild of America, East said in a statement to AFP.
The union comprises journalists from NBC and MSNBC.
CNN reported that companies that haven’t laid off staffers have taken strong measures to reduce spending.
Naveen Sarma, a senior media analyst with S&P Global Rating, noted a “steep, secular decline” of traditional broadcast and cable television in the United States, leading to a dramatic drop in subscriptions to paid TV.
“That’s a constant ongoing struggle for all these companies to come in,” said Sarma.
Which companies have made cuts?
Heavy hitters such as CNN, NBC, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, MSNBC have announced lay-offs recently.
Journalists who were laid off from other organizations in recent weeks have also taken to Twitter to express anger, dismay, or gratitude to their colleagues, while beginning to look for a new job.
“I’ll be figuring out my next move. I’m a data reporter but I also write and produce,” tweeted Emily Siegel, who was let go after five years as an investigative reporter at NBC. “I’d love to keep doing this work. My (direct messages) are open.”
NBC and MSNBC, which declined an AFP request for comment, bid farewell to some 75 employees, according to US media.
A similar announcement is dreaded at the Washington Post.
The New York Times reported that Post owner Jeff Bezos stopped by the newsroom last week and sat in on an edit meet.
The move was viewed inside the paper as “an indication of his commitment to the future of the publication,” as per the report.
In December, CEO Fred Ryan warned last month that “a number of positions” will be cut in the following weeks, adding that the layoffs would affect “a single digit percentage of our employee base” of some 2,500 people.
Hires for other positions can continue, the paper said.
The Washington Post Magazine, the paper’s Sunday supplement which won two Pulitzer prizes, was shut down in December as part of what executive editor Sally Buzbee described in a memo as the paper’s “global and digital transformation.”
And Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc announced to her staff Friday that the company is up for sale.
In recent months, CNN has laid off an estimated several hundred workers out of a total of some 4,000 people, according to US media. CNN would not confirm those figures to AFP.
The cuts took place as the company underwent a restructuring following a merger between Warner Media, which includes CNN and HBO Max, and Discovery.
The merger resulted in the creation of the Warner Bros. Discovery mega conglomerate.
Following the merger, CNN‘s new parent company abruptly pulled the plug on the network’s $100 million streaming service CNN+.
CNN in November informed its employees that layoffs had commenced, a move which will impact hundreds of staffers at the global news network and mark the deepest cuts to the organization in years.
Chris Licht, who took over as chief executive of the network in May, described the cuts in an all-staff memo as a “gut punch” to the organization and told employees that “it is incredibly hard to say goodbye to any one member of the CNN team, much less many,” CNN reported.
Employees at the company had been anxiously bracing for the layoffs since Licht informed them last month that “unsettling” changes lie ahead.
Digital media company BuzzFeed in December announced it would cut 12 per cent of its workforce, citing worsening economic conditions.
The New York company, which made the announcement in a regulatory filing, did not disclose how many workers it was letting go. According to the data firm FactSet, BuzzFeed has 1,522 employees, which would mean roughly 180 of them would be laid off.
Advertisers, on which BuzzFeed relies, have broadly pulled back spending to address rising costs. Spending on advertising is typically among the most elastic items in a company’s budget and is often the first place to see cuts.
“In order for BuzzFeed to weather an economic downturn that I believe will extend well into 2023, we must adapt, invest in our strategy to serve our audience best, and readjust our cost structure,” Jonah Peretti, co-founder and CEO, wrote in a letter to staff.
BuzzFeed, founded by Peretti in 2006 and initially known for listicles and online quizzes, has established itself as a serious contender in the news business, winning a Pulitzer last year for international reporting.
Its other brands include Tasty, the world’s largest social food network.
It has been buying up competitors, including HuffPost, the media outlet founded in 2005 as The Huffington Post, from Verizon Media in 2020.
Roush of Quinnipiac University says the changes were especially painful for smaller media.
“CNN, Washington Post, those are not going away, but a smaller company, they have bigger issues, because they’re just smaller and not as well established as a media brand,” he said.
Apart from media organisations, big tech companies have announced the laying off of their employees. Google’s parent company Alphabet on Friday joined Big Tech giants Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft in announcing layoffs.
Alphabet said it had made the decision to eliminate 6 per cent of its workforce, which translates to approximately 12,000 jobs, reported CNN.
Entertainment giants, such as Warner Bros. Discovery (CNN’s parent company) and Paramount Global, have also trimmed their workforces.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: January 23, 2023 18:21:32 IST
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After tech companies, now US media titans begin lay-offs. Is the job market going to weaken further? – Firstpost
Big media companies are now laying off workers. ANI