The media has seen a hemorrhaging of cost-cutting in recent weeks as economic uncertainty and political polarization plague the industry, with several high-profile news organizations cutting staff.
Beverly Hollberg, president of District Media Group, isn’t surprised by the news at several prominent media companies, noting that layoffs are typically the first place media companies tend to downsize. While many blame economic hardship, Hallberg believes many news organizations have become too polarized to continue operating with the status quo.
“Many news outlets have focused more on opinion than reporting and actively attacking half of the population,” Hallberg said.
“It’s not surprising that many readers/viewers have gone elsewhere, especially after the explosion of digital media, which offers so many opportunities,” Hallberg continued. “On top of that, you have a struggling economy and a looming recession.”
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Philipp Stutz, CEO of Win BIG Media, echoed Hollberg’s sentiments, saying the corporate media industry is facing negative business factors, including the state of the U.S. economy, competition from emerging alternatives, and more partisan coverage from traditional media. he said he was coming. corporate press.
“As you can see, people are saying that I have to make different decisions with my wallet during the recession, but that coverage is no longer balanced,” he said.
Stutts described many of the traditional news organizations facing layoffs as companies with exorbitant budgets and employees working like inmates in an asylum. He said “lean and mean” startups filled with independent journalists like Barry Weiss are thriving while traditional media withers on the vine.
– You know the old proverb: “Once you wake up.” I mean, that’s what happens with all the big news organizations,” he added. “At the end of the day, people buy good work.”
Warner Bros. Discovery’s CNN has eliminated everyone from top talent to regular employees in an effort to cut costs. CEO Chris Licht, who has been involved in mass layoffs, told employees the cuts were necessary as hundreds of employees were laid off earlier this month.
“The changes we are making today are necessary and will position us stronger and better to make big bets going forward without fear of failure,” Licht wrote in a memo to employees.
Last month, the Washington Post announced it would drop its Sunday print magazine, shedding 10 positions in the process. Postal workers, part of a newspaper owned by one of the world’s richest men in Jeff Bezos, hoped to get answers Wednesday at a town hall meeting with publisher Fred Ryan.
Instead of clarity, Ryan announced that the additional positions would be eliminated in the first quarter of 2023 and then refused to take questions from the staff of Democracy Dies in Darkness, saying he did not want to engage in a “complaint session” with him. union. The Washington Post called Ryan’s behavior “unacceptable.”
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Morale is low at both CNN and the Washington Post, insiders at both outlets say. Part of the problem was how the honchos took the news.
A Washington Post insider criticized Ryan for his cautious announcement, calling his interactions with employees “terrible.”
“After the sudden layoff announcement in the magazine, I think people were waiting for the other shoe to drop. But to announce something as vague and disturbing as this and then walk away without asking a single question is arrogant and rude. “, they said.
The insider also noted how Ryan avoided questions from the audience, even though his comments came during a company town hall filled with professional journalists, where employees were encouraged to ask questions.
“Terrible internal PR, demoralizing. And all by itself,” the person added.
As for CNN, Licht was crushed by a series of reports from Pac’s Dylan Byers, who worked at CNN and was known to have many good friends. Byers pointed out to Licht that he had no plans to cut staff until about six months before he sent the staff packing, but CNN’s Licht hinted at possible future changes and was unaware of the firings at the time. in the opportunity.
Warner Bros. Discovery also pulled the plug on all live programming on CNN’s sister network HLN, forcing longtime morning show anchor Robin Mead to leave the network, where she first joined in 2001.
Gannett, a newspaper juggernaut that owns dozens of local media outlets along with USA Today, has launched. the last stage of dismissal last month The cost-cutting effort affected about 6 percent of the company’s new workforce of about 3,440 employees.
Similarly, NPR, which nearly halted hiring in November, cut $10 million from its budget and ended its summer internship program.
The network’s chief executive, John Lansing, said last month that he intended to avoid layoffs and would have to make drastic hiring cuts. The network also cut discretionary spending and travel as part of a $10 million cut that represents 3 percent of NPR’s annual budget. The network’s 137 vacancies represent about 11 percent of its workforce. Lansing also said the company faced a $20 million drop in corporate sponsorships.
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According to DePauw University journalism professor Jeffrey McCall, corporate news outlets are now seeing the consequences of abandoning traditional standards of journalism.
“It’s true that news consumers have many options and new ways to consume news, but that only partially explains the financial challenges the news industry faces,” McCall said.
“Consumers of the news have left the media because those publications have ceased to serve as proxies for the public. Instead, news organizations have sat on ideological, activist high horses. As a result, mainstream news credibility ratings for .
According to McCall, Americans don’t want “tainted, agenda-driven news.”
“Advertisers have to survive, news outlets have noticed that audiences are leaving and are acting accordingly,” he said.
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Not everyone believes that media downsizing is directly related to political polarization or anything unusual, because it happens all the time in different industries.
Attorney Helen Rella, a member of Wilk Auslander’s Global Practice Group, specializes in employment law. Companies regularly review their workforce and determine who should be with them.
“While it may seem unusual that this is happening in one industry at a time, there have been significant changes in workforce dynamics since the onset of the COVID pandemic, forcing employers to restructure their workforces. It forced us to review and make changes because of profitability issues,” Rella said.
After Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the Silicon Valley-based social media platform closed last month, in addition to layoffs at traditional news outlets, Twitter underwent a complete overhaul. Musk initially informed employees that about half of the company’s 7,500-strong workforce would be out of a job, and he has since laid off additional workers for various reasons.
The Walt Disney Company announced last month that it would cut jobs and freeze hiring. Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Lyft are among other companies that are freezing hiring or laying off workers.
Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.