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Media Layoffs Intensify in a New Trend for 2024

It seems the media industry is joining Big Tech and finance in downsizing.

Last year, Big Tech and finance were the chief sectors culling their workforce numbers. While this persists in the beginning of 2024, media layoffs have now become one of the top storylines in the US labor market so far this year. Some of the world’s biggest media brands are slashing their payrolls in an effort to restructure internal affairs or respond to external developments.

Media Layoffs Galore

Paramount Global launched a round of layoffs, trimming its headcount worldwide by about 3%. This should total more than 700 people since the company maintains an international workforce of around 24,500 full- and part-time employees. Paramount’s decision comes as one of the world’s top entertainment brands experiences a slowdown in advertising revenue and faces a difficult shift from linear television to streaming. CEO Bob Bakish wrote in an internal memo that “this is the right decision for our future.”

The Intercept, an independent investigation-focused news outlet launched about a decade ago, plans to terminate 15 employees across the company due to “significant financial challenges.” NowThis, a left-leaning outlet that produces and publishes news videos, laid off about half of its staff. Vox Media fired 4% of its team, totaling at least 20 people.

Media layoffs have been prevalent this year. According to Challenger data, the industry announced 836 job cuts in January, up 11% from the same time in the previous year. In the news subcategory, there were 528 layoffs last month, the highest monthly total since March 2023. Here is a brief rundown of the downsizing efforts by well-known news brands in the first two months of 2024:

  • Business Insider: 70
  • Los Angeles Times: 115
  • The Messenger: 300
  • MSNBC and NBC News: 50 to 100
  • Pitchfork: 12
  • Sports Illustrated: 100
  • Time: 30
  • Wall Street Journal: 12

The decision to trim the number of employees emanates from advertising issues, subscription difficulties, and corporate restructuring. Whatever the case, it is never easy to lose a job, no matter the reason.

Layoffs in a Booming Labor Market

The US labor market has been described as booming. The unemployment rate remains 4%, and the economy continues its streak of monthly job creation. Still, there has been an astonishing number of layoffs across multiple sectors that do not appear in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. UPS cut 12,000 jobs, Cisco let thousands of people go, Instacart announced 250 layoffs, Pure Storage shed 275 workers, and Mozilla eliminated 60 positions. Yet, according to BLS data, a total of 353,000 new jobs were added in January.

This type of uncertainty has America’s small business community adopting a wait-and-see approach, according to Red Balloon’s latest Freedom Economy Index (FEI) survey of 80,000 small firms. The study highlighted that most employers are “not hiring nor reducing,” although the number of companies saying they “will reduce staff” edged up 11%.

It makes sense, too. On the one hand, inflation remains elevated, price pressures are being revived, and there have been between eight and nine million job openings for two to three years. On the other hand, the current administration keeps championing how great the economy is doing, consumer confidence has rocketed, and the GDP growth is gangbusters. All of this is occurring while interest rates are the highest in more than two decades, household debt is at a record high, and pandemic-era savings have been exhausted. What’s the deal exactly?

More Layoffs to Come?

From Big Tech to finance to media layoffs, there is little reason to suspect that this will be the trend for the next several months. And this is not only concentrated in the United States. Many advanced economies are enduring a sharp increase in the size and frequency of layoffs. Bell Canada, for example, is slashing 4,800 jobs. The difference between the two countries, however, is that these US companies have not received or benefited from taxpayer dollars. Bell is one of Canada’s wealthiest corporations and enjoyed tens of millions of dollars in government funding. In today’s environment, not even generous corporate welfare will achieve much, especially on the jobs front.

Read More From Andrew Moran

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