Jan 24, 2019

More than 1,000 media jobs lost in one day

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The media industry's current round of cuts and consolidation is accelerating. Sizable layoffs at Buzzfeed, Gannett and Verizon Media (home of AOL, Yahoo, HuffPost and others) were announced Wednesday, totaling over 1,000 jobs cut.

Why it matters: If the headlines signal anything, it's that the news media will continue to struggle to find a sustainable business model in an advertising and attention ecosystem dominated by tech companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix.

By the numbers:

  • Verizon Media will cut roughly 800 jobs, or 7% of its global workforce across the organization, as well as certain brands and products. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told Axios earlier this month that each of the company's three units, including the media business, needed to be able to stand on their own. (A company spokesperson later clarified to Axios that Verizon Media Group will still have access to Verizon customer data when customers opt in to provide such information.)
  • Buzzfeed will cut roughly 250 jobs, or roughly 15% of its workforce, including jobs within its news division.
  • Gannett cut over 20 jobs Wednesday, per Poynter, with more expected as the company tries to shed costs amid buyout talks.

The big picture: The struggle to create businesses that can support a healthy news environment is universal across the information ecosystem. It exists at the local, national and global levels, and across digital, print and television operations.

Events in the past year that underscore this reality:

  • the cheap sales of websites that had raised tons of money, like Mic.com and Mashable
  • big layoffs at digital properties like Vox and Refinery29
  • Massive write-downs of media properties owned by bigger companies, like Vice and Verizon Media

Be smart: Policymakers around the world want to address the problem, but most are still struggling to find workable solutions.

  • In Europe, lawmakers have proposed a copyright directive that would force tech giants to pay publishers for linking to their content, but the directive experienced a setback five days ago after member states failed to agree on some rules.
  • In the U.S., regulators at the FCC has rolled back decades-old broadcast ownership rules to allow local news companies to more easily merger to be better able to scale and potentially compete with some of their tech counterparts.
  • The U.S. newspaper industry is still waiting on Congress for a proposed temporary safe harbor that would allow it to bargain as a group against big tech companies.

Bottom line: Many news companies are struggling to find sustainable business models in the digital era. There's no sign it's getting any easier.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 1,430,141 — Total deaths: 82,119 — Total recoveries: 301,130Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 398,809 — Total deaths: 12,895 — Total recoveries: 22,224Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Trump said he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning that the crisis could kill more than half a million Americans.
  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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African Americans are disproportionately dying from coronavirus

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams at a Coronavirus Task Force Press news briefing. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has highlighted the disproportionate impact the novel coronavirus is having on African American communities, telling CBS Tuesday "many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID."

Driving the news: Several states and cities have reported that African Americans are dying from the virus at higher rates than any other racial demographic. Not all agencies have released a breakdown of data, but the virus is spiking in cities with large African American populations, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and New Orleans.

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A Wisconsin poll worker wearing PPE guides people through a line outside of a polling place. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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The big picture: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers attempted to delay the state's election in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in polling places. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned his order Monday and said the election must be held on Tuesday as originally scheduled.