May 23, 2024

In 2020, large employee cuts occurred as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, resulting in roughly 37,000 workers at news organizations being laid off, according to The New York Times. These layoffs only continue to occur as the news industry attempts to adapt to the ever-evolving world of media and technology. For example, in 2022, major companies such as Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney made headlines when they announced their employee cuts. Additionally, according to Forbes, in last year alone, 21,500 media jobs were lost, including Spotify cutting its workforce by 17%, Vox Media cutting theirs by 4%, and BuzzFeed News completely shutting down its offices.

Dr. Mary Ann Pearson, professor of communication and leadership, said she thinks the financial situation news companies find themselves in due to the switch from print to digital could be a major cause.

“Print journalism isn’t as valued as it used to be. There are fewer people who will actually go with subscriptions, so news agencies have had to become leaner and leaner. And I think with the economy becoming more challenging now, it’s made it even harder,” Pearson said. 

The biggest news companies to take this economic hit have been The Los Angeles Times, which lost around $40 million last year, according to The New York Times, and News Corp, the company that owns the Wall Street Journal and others, with their revenue falling 9% (approximately $8 million), according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Tania Brooks, sophomore film production major, said that she gets most of her news online.

“I haven’t recently read a newspaper. Social media is a lot more current a lot of the time because people post as soon as things happen,” Brooks said.

Recently, Vice Media announced that along with layoffs, it will be ending its news site, Paramount Global cut 3% of its workforce, Alphabet and YouTube laid off thousands of employees, Warner Music Group cut 10% of its staff and Insider cut 8%, according to CNN. At the end of January, Variety published an article about Sports Illustrated’s layoffs titled, “Sports Illustrated: Possibly Entire Editorial Staff Let Go.” 

Tim Franklin, the senior associate dean at Northwestern University’s Medill journalism school, said the layoffs are “breathtaking” in an interview for Politico. 

“This is a continuation of the trend,” he said. “Part of the issue is that the landscape is changing so rapidly, that the news organizations are trying to change the wheels on the plane as it’s flying.”

Laura Walewska, junior journalism major, said she thinks social media is the primary place the younger generation goes to find the news. 

“At this point, journalism is kind of combined with social media creators. It does make it so much harder to be sure if news is reliable or not but it is much more timely and relevant,” Walewska said. 

Regardless of the impact, Pearson reassured that journalism skills are necessary and sought after in the marketplace. 

“In an interview, [when someone has studied journalism], the interviewer is thinking, ‘They can fact check, they can write, they can be sure things are accurate, they have good grammar.’ All those things make you more valuable,” Pearson said. “The founding of our nation was based on journalists who wrote ‘The Penny Press.’ [Journalism] is foundational and it is something that is highly valued, but yet, in a position of change.” 

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