Australian wildfires. Impeachment. COVID-19. George Floyd. Protests in the streets. These were some of the biggest news stories in recent memory – and they’ve all happened in the last five months. These important stories have been told because of dogged journalists and media organizations in search of facts and a duty to inform the people. But in the wake of a rash of layoffs and mandatory furloughs, we run the risk of a watered down free press and a loss of vital reporting that both informs and holds those in power accountable.
While the media has seen its share of cuts in recent years, as you’ll see in the roundup below, the pandemic has quickly made it worse as thousands of journalists have lost their jobs. Now more than ever we need to support the free press – especially in local markets – to ensure important stories get told.
“We are thankful that management accepted our proposal to avert layoffs, but this is a painful cut. Like the vast majority of newsrooms across the country, The Times has lost significant revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite historic demand for our journalism.”
The Guild called the pay reduction a “work-sharing” program, where workers can keep their health and retirement benefits and can collect “prorated unemployment benefits to offset lost wages” until their hours are restored.”
“NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell alluded to the review during Comcast’s earnings call Thursday. Asked how NBCUniversal was positioned to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus, Mr. Shell said,“On costs, the question about whether we’re right-sized on costs given where the environment is headed, the answer is probably no, and we’re addressing that pretty aggressively.”
He added: “And certainly over the next weeks and months, we’ll make pretty significant adjustments there across our business.”
“The Athletic is just the latest news media company to face challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. At least 36,000 workers at news companies have been furloughed, laid off or had their pay reduced during the outbreak. The company is insulated from some of the pandemic’s ravages because of its funding and because it receives most of its revenue from subscriptions, though it does receive podcast advertising money.”
“According to Dubuc, Vice Media was able to retain about 90% of the jobs in the digital organization by eliminating open roles across the company. In addition, the company is moving “as many individuals as possible” over to the growing Vice News division.”
“We’ve already seen a decline in our business. Weakness in March, driven by the cancellations of SXSW and March Madness, the collapse of travel, sports and fashion-related advertising, and other factors led us to miss our revenue goals by several million dollars in the first quarter; the impact will be significantly greater in the second quarter.”
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