Newsroom Layoffs: In January alone, over 500 newsroom layoffs occurred across top-tier, trade, and local outlets. How should we navigate them?
In Other News:
- Broadcast/Streaming: CNN revamps morning show lineup, Gray Television and 300 local channels team up to launch local news streaming platform
- Print: NYT and Fox Corp. earnings show declines in ad revenue, Buzzfeed and Vice look to sell off assets
- Audio: Sirius XM drops subscribers in Q4 2024
- Social Media: Bluesky opens to public as a potential competitor of X (Twitter)
Blog Spotlight: As companies grow increasingly reluctant to say “ESG” by name, our CEO Amy Binder discusses the shift and how companies should think about ESG communications in 2024.
The News: This week, we focus on the layoffs of so many journalists over the past month. According to a report cited in Politico, over 500 journalism jobs were cut in January 2024 alone. Last year, outlets cut 3,087 digital, broadcast and print jobs, the highest annual total since 2020 (over 16k jobs).
The Details: Here’s a look at some of the layoffs over the past month.
Compiled by RF|Binder
Sources: Press Gazette, The Wall Street Journal, Axios Media Trends, The Wrap, Variety, Reuters, CNN, AP, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, Fast Company
The Takeaway: While the number and scope of these cutbacks have been unsettling, they are not completely surprising. Throughout 2023 into 2024, newsrooms have been challenged with adapting to digital news consumption preferences and the rise of generative AI in a way that supports revenue. As reported by Sara Fischer in Axios Media Trends, the media has gone from an advertising model to a subscription-based model that is starting to wane with these challenges (ad slumps, AI growth, subscriber decline/stagnation), leading to layoffs. The outlook for media in 2024 is murkier than ever as outlets look to identify a new model that works.
We’ve seen this cycle before, though election years usually boost ad revenues and audience engagement with the news. In these periods, we find it’s worth keeping track of journalists who’ve been laid off, as many resurface at other outlets as conditions improve. In the meantime, consolidation or realignment of beats could raise the bar for story ideas. Pitches will need — more than ever — to demonstrate significant news value and relevance for the outlet’s audience. Some companies will find new faces covering their industries and issues, so building new relationships will be crucial. Finally, outlets will prize story ideas that take little editorial time and resources.
In Other News
CNN is discontinuing its morning chat-show format, pivoting to straight news coverage under Chairman Mark Thompson to address ratings challenges and prioritize digital expansion. In February 2024, “CNN This Morning” will cease production. The revised schedule will be:
- 5 AM – 7 AM ET: “CNN This Morning” with Kasie Hunt
- 7 AM – 10 AM ET: “CNN NewsCentral” with John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner
- 10 AM – 11 AM ET: “CNN Newsroom” with Jim Acosta
- 11 AM – 12 PM ET: “The Bulletin with Pamela Brown” – note, Wolf Blitzer will cover for Brown while she’s on paternity leave (NYT, NewscastStudio).
Gray Television teamed up with 300 other local stations to launch Zeam, a free local news streamer backed by Syncbak that aims to revolutionize local news streaming (Business Insider).
The New York Times reported 300,000 subscribers added in Q4 2024 and 10.36 million subscribers in 2023. However, ad revenue fell and is expected to decline further this year (NYT).
Fox Corp. met analyst expectations, but advertising revenue fell 20%. The company is partnering with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery to create a sports streaming platform (The Hollywood Reporter, Barron’s).
BuzzFeed and Vice Media face further downsizing as they engage in talks to sell off assets including BuzzFeed’s food sites and Vice’s Refinery29 (WSJ).
SiriusXM experienced a net drop of 94,000 subscribers in Q4 2023, yet remains optimistic about future growth, particularly through partnerships like Audible (The Hollywood Reporter).
Meta announced it will stop proactively recommending political content on Instagram or Threads, making it less likely users will see politics-oriented content on their “Explore “page (WaPo).
Bluesky, Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey’s alternative to X, is open for the public to join, aiming to be “the last social account you’ll ever need to create” (TIME).
By Amy Binder
We’re bringing back a blog post from our CEO, Amy Binder, about ESG and how the term is falling from favor with companies. The politicization of ESG has been on the rise over the last few years, and evidence started emerging last year that companies are swerving away from the term. Midway through the Q4 2024 earnings season, news stories have reported a significant drop in companies naming ESG in their messaging. According to FactSet, only nine S&P 500 companies directly mentioned ESG in their earnings calls. In her piece, Amy argues that though terms like ESG come and go, companies cannot forego communications around their principles and the progress of their sustainability, social, and governance initiatives.