It was a stunning story that unfolded on Thursday. One news organization after another announced layoffs in the hundreds from outfits like Verizon (AOL, Yahoo News), Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, and Gannett. About a thousand workers from writers to editors to other support staff were let go as their bosses announced that the businesses just could not afford to keep those people on the payroll.
BuzzFeed announced Wednesday that it would lay off 15% of its workforce, or about 220 employees; Verizon announced it would cut 7% or approximately 800 jobs from its media division, which includes brands like HuffPost, AOL and Yahoo News; and Gannett slashed dozens of jobs at newspapers across the country.
The severity of the cuts at Gannett came to light through various media reports and as journalists who were laid off tweeted out the news. The Poynter Institute’s website, which in part provides news coverage of the journalism industry, noted in a story that “the cuts were not minor” and affected well-known journalists, including a 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist.
On Thursday, some HuffPost employees who had been let go also shared their stories on Twitter. Among those affected was Jason Cherkis, a reporter who was a finalist for a Pulitzer in 2016. Bryan Maygers, the head of opinion at HuffPost, said he was told the site’s “opinion section is no more.”
The blame for all of this bloodletting is being placed on lack of advertising dollars as epitomized by the sheer profits made by Facebook and Google which allow advertising dollars to get issues in front of users. Revenue streams like advertising are limited, so that would be logical.
However, given the content of the products offered by these outlets, and the sheer variety and number of places to get news these days, they just may not have the traffic.
Whatever the case is, this mass layoff day could well just be the beginning of the end of the mainstream media as we know it. Stay tuned. More may be coming if revenues are down is so many diverse places.