The Media Industry Has Lost 1,000+ Jobs

Since the start of 2019, several media outlets such as Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and Vice have laid off between 7% to 15% of their workforce. The layoffs come after what other media companies call a “turbulent time in digital media.” Companies like these have struggled for the last few years with their ad revenue being impacted by media giants like Google and Facebook who generate more traffic. These same giants used to be big advertisers for the now declining media outlets, but over the years have been more inclined to advertise user-generated content instead of bigger publishers. At the end of the day, digital media is always fluctuating in its audience outreach and overall economics.

Courtesy: The Daily Beast

Buzzfeed laid off approximately 200 of its staff members because it was failing to make a profit. This was one of the more publicized media job cuts. The layoff brought cuts to the entirety of the national desk, the national security team, health journalists, most of the entertainment team, and almost all of the LGBTQ+ desk. This kept departments such as technology, politics, and investigations intact. Following the layoffs, Buzzfeed had a series of negative headlines. First, reports surfaced that they were refusing to pay the laid-off staffers for their accrued paid time off. Some employees had been saving their time off to use for longer vacation days at the time that they were laid off, and the severance packages did not outline a plan to pay them for the time off. Instead, the severance package would include pay for between 10 to 16 weeks based on seniority and medical benefits through April. Accumulated time off would only be paid to employees who lived in states that had laws requiring it to be paid. When more of the specific people that were let go came to light in the form of a website used to find these now-unemployed staffers new jobs, people were focused on the demographics of these people. The majority were people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Buzzfeed has now been accused of letting these same employees build them a reputation and popular content and then letting them go to replace them with temporary fellows that will be paid entry-level wages.

Courtesy: InfoStormer

The HuffPost layoffs were a direct result of Verizon Media taking a $4.6 billion cut to a division of their company that includes AOL, Yahoo, and HuffPost. Among the layoffs at the HuffPost was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and the opinion and health writers for the site. Meanwhile, Vice’s layoffs were more expected than Buzzfeed’s and The HuffPost. Last year, Vice implemented a “hiring freeze” hoping that by not increasing their number of employees they could avoid having to let anyone go. It all came down to not making enough profit and not raising their revenue enough to justify avoiding layoffs. Despite the layoffs, they plan to upkeep their hiring freeze, unlike Buzzfeed who is looking to hire year-long fellows in the same department that they had let people go. Overall, the decline has had many in the general public speculating that this is the new normal for digital media companies. When just about anyone can generate and publish their own content, publishing companies like the ones suffering layoffs, now have to find their competitive edge in order to maintain their audience and hope that this creates jobs moving forward.