Apr 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

Digital media clobbered by coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The drastic measures at top digital media outlets serve as a stark reminder that few victims will be spared by the economic crisis prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Vice Media has laid out a plan for potential layoffs of over 300 people in digital operations, according to The Wall Street Journal. It would be joining Group Nine Media, BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Bustle Digital Group, Cheddar, Maven Media, G/O Media, Protocol and others who have resorted to layoffs and furloughs.

  • Even Protocol, the digital-first tech website launched by Politico owner Robert Allbritton just two months ago, said Tuesday that it was laying off 13 staffers, including its editorial director.

Between the lines: It would be shocking if Vice, which lost over a billion dollars in value over the past few years, didn't make cuts. Vice spent roughly $400 million last year to acquire Refinery29, after investors had already begun writing down their investments in the company.

  • "Vice is expecting online ad sales to suffer during the crisis, with expected shortfalls of 33% at Refinery29 and 39% at Vice’s entertainment and news sites, according to the document," the WSJ notes.
  • A spokesperson tells the Journal no such plans are final.

Be smart: The economic crisis caused by the pandemic is different from previous recessions because it's likely to have a worse impact on the ad industry and because it will hit other revenue that publishers rely on, including live events.

Flashback: Digital media companies were riding a wave of optimism just a few months ago, with many expecting to finally become profitable in 2020. Now, those plans are pipe dreams.

  • "You do wonder if certain types of media will come back from this,” said Nicholas Carlson, editor in chief of Business Insider, in an interview with Vanity Fair.

Go deeper: Coronavirus presents existential threat for news media

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct that Protocol is owned by Robert Allbritton, who is also the owner of Politico. The original version said that Politico launched Protocol.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Florida reported on Wednesday its largest number of new novel coronavirus cases in a single day since April 17. 1,317 people tested positive to take the state total to 58,764, per the state's health department. Despite the rise, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said bars and clubs could reopen on Friday.

By the numbers: More than 107,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 479,000 Americans have recovered and over 18 million tests have been conducted.

16 hours ago - Health

World Health Organization resumes hydroxychloroquine trial

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization will resume its hydroxychloroquine trial after its safety committee found "there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol," WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing Wednesday.

The big picture: The organization temporarily suspended its trial for the antimalarial drug last week after an analysis published in The Lancet showed coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm.

Trump's troubles grow, spread

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is confronting the most dire political environment of his presidency, with his support dropping fast from Texas to Wisconsin, even among his base of religious and older voters. 

Why it matters: Top Republicans tell Axios that Trump's handling of the nation's civil unrest, including his hasty photo op at St. John's Church after the violent clearing of Lafayette Park, make them much more worried about his chance of re-election than they were one week ago.