It’s not breaking news to say that the journalism industry is changing. The print industry in particular is seeing an increase in layoffs as a result of these transitions.
At least 36% of the largest newspapers across the United States – as well as at least 23% of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets – experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018, according to a PEW Research study.
In late July, the New York Daily News, a staple in New York that has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes, cut its newsroom staff in half. Those that were laid off included Jim Rich, the editor-in-chief.
Similarly, the Omaha World-Herald eliminated 43 jobs in February. Jordan Fox was one of those that was laid off. Fox was a copy editor with the World-Herald from June 2015 until the layoffs in February 2018.
“I went to work the night before and did a good job, I did good work,” Fox said. “I woke up the next morning and got a phone call around 10 a.m. and they told me I no longer had a job there.”
Fox is one of a plethora of news employees around the country that have fallen victim to the untethered rise of the internet, the recent credit crisis, and other factors have lead to this recent spike in layoffs.
“It used to be the only way you got into a house was with a newspaper,” said John Hill, Rhode Island president and northeast regional director with the Newsguild, explaining factors that have lead to recent staff cuts. “Everyone is trying to figure out their place with the internet.”
Hill explained that another major component of the layoffs are the venture capital firms that are buying these local news syndicates, and cutting staff to fit revenue, rather than finding other solutions to acquired debts. These hedge fund groups detect an industry in transition, buy individual syndicates, and use quick solutions to make a quarterly profit, without any consideration for those that lose their job as a result.
One of these groups is GateHouse Media, whose parent company is New Media Investment Group, or “NEWM” as they are known on Wall Street. GateHouse Media actually just bought the Oklahoman Media Company this morning for an undisclosed amount, NewsOK reported. The sale will close on Oct. 1, and if the current trend continues you can expect a wave of layoffs to follow soon after.
Those within the industry are still hopeful, however. Mizell Stewart, head of news talent and partnerships for Gannett, came to the Excellence in Journalism News conference and career expo with a goal to fill 100 jobs.
“No doubt the workforce in newsrooms is changing,” Mizell said. “Our focus is on the future.”
As the industry goes through further changes, everyone within the field must continue to adapt.