US media outlets are laying off large numbers of employees amid fears of an economic recession. Vox Media was the latest to join the bandwagon on Friday, announcing 7% staff downsizing. The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, Buzzfeed, and other outlets have already announced layoffs.
Vox Media staff got a memo from CEO Jim Bankoff about “the difficult decision” to let go of roughly 7% staff “due to the challenging economic environment” impacting the business and industry. That accounts for roughly 130 of the group’s 1,900 employees.
A Vox spokesperson told AFP that employees were offered “competitive severance packages.” Vox Media owns Vox and The Verge websites besides the New York Magazine and its online platforms.
“Falling ad revenue”
Chris Roush, dean of the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, told AFP that the media layoffs are the result of falling advertising revenue amid a gloomy economic climate.
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According to what Roush told AFP, the media houses “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,” which “just hasn’t happened and is unlikely to happen given what’s happening in the economy.”
A 2021 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that newsroom employment has been on a steady decline in the US since 2008, when the global slowdown hit, falling from 114,000 then to 85,000 in 2020.
The Writers Guild of America, East admitted to AFP that journalism has been under pressure for some time, and said many companies “seem to think this is an opportune time to reduce their labour costs.”
Smaller media houses worst hit
At the Washington Post, CEO Fred Ryan declared in December that “a number of positions” would be terminated though hirings for other positions can continue. The paper’s Sunday supplement, Washington Post Magazine, was shut down in December.
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Vice Media is up for sale, CEO Nancy Dubuc announced to her employees on Friday. CNN has reportedly laid off several hundred workers in recent months following a merger between parent company Warner Media and Discovery.
Roush told AFP that smaller media outlets have been the worst hit by these trends.
Despite these, the media industry has not been hit as dramatically as tech giants such as Microsoft and Google. Earlier this week, Microsoft fired 10,000 employees, while Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., announced 12,000 layoffs globally.
Online food delivery platform Swiggy on Friday laid off 380 employees, while Amazon announced 18,000 job cuts earlier this month.
(With agency inputs)