The Human Toll of the 2019 Media Apocalypse
More than 3,000 journalists lost their jobs this year. These are some of their stories.
Being a journalist in 2019 meant working under the gun. In January, over a thousand journalists lost their jobs as layoffs hit Gannett, BuzzFeed, AOL, and HuffPost. Vice laid off 250 employees in February; New York Media laid off 32 employees in March; in April, G/O Media let go of 25 people. New Orleans’ Times-Picayune let go the entire staff, 161 employees, in May after the newspaper was sold to a competitor; in August, Pacific Standard shut down after a decade of publishing. No company or sector of news was spared. NBCUniversal laid off 70 employees in two rounds of layoffs in August and September. Spin Media Group cut 29 jobs in September and January; Cox Media Group, which owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, announced plans to lay off 87 people in September. Sports Illustrated laid off more than 40 employees in October. In November, the Toronto Star and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had a combined 108 layoffs.
This story may very well be outdated by the time it’s published. In mid-November, GateHouse Media closed its $1.1-billion takeover of USA Today publisher Gannett. Both publishers quietly had premerger layoffs — in January, Gannett reportedly laid off as many as 400 reporters across the country following a round of voluntary buyouts, and GateHouse laid off reporters in May and August. In early December, after the merger closed, Gannett laid off at least 215 employees at USA Today and almost 40 other publications, according to Florida Times-Union journalist Andrew Pantazi, who kept track in a spreadsheet. Eleven employees of Pride Media were let go in December, including Out Editor in Chief Phillip Picardi, leaving only five staffers on the magazine. And The Atlantic sold CityLab to Bloomberg Media, in a deal that allows only a few employees to retain their jobs, and then only after interviewing with Bloomberg. In some cases, these layoffs are done very quietly: At Bustle Digital Group, almost three-dozen layoffs were planned in advance and then staggered over several months to avoid media attention.
2019 crystallized something media people have known to be true for a while: While digital media dries out in the wake of the VC funding…