It’s like being back in 2008: The fear of a recession is pushing many media outlets, big and small, to lay off people en masse in the US. And the written press is not the only one affected…
“I am crushed”, ” my heart is broken “… In recent days, messages from fired CNN employees have been making the rounds on Twitter. A star political columnist, a journalist specializing in artificial intelligence, an on-air host for more than twenty years: they are among the hundreds of people thanked by the news channel as part of a plan to cut costs for the new CEO, Chris Licht. “Let’s take care of each other this week”, the latter said in a memo to the company of 4,400 people when he announced the upcoming job cuts at the end of November.
This wave of forced departures is not unique to CNN. Several US media outlets, large and small, have also announced a reduction in their workforce. On the question: the fear of a recession in the US, which in particular results in a contraction of the advertising market. In print, Gannett, the largest transatlantic newspaper chain, owner of local and national titles, is laying off about 200 people, in addition to 400 (6% of its US workforce). United) last summer.
that Washington Post, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, indicated the end of his Sunday magazine (10 people). Buzzfeed, Vice Media and Morning Brew (specializing in business) also announced cuts. And Protocol, the tech site launched by Politico in 2020, will shut down at the end of the year. It employs 60 employees.
“The number of [médias en ligne] missed the target. For a long time, [ils] offered their content for free to their users as the online offering grew.” Chris Roush, professor of journalism
As for public radio NPR, it plans to suspend all new hires amid a staggering drop ($20 million) in its private funding. The list is still long… “The comparison with the recession in 2007-2008 is not exaggerated. That
media companies are behaving the same way they did back then.notes Chris Roush, dean of the School of Communication at Quinnipiac University and founder of the website Talking Biz News, which focuses on business journalism. “Because of its funding model, print media may be the most affected, but all types of media will suffer. No one will come out unscathed. »
For the expert, the fragility of companies in the sector can be explained in several ways. “Start-ups, like Buzzfeed or Protocol, have grown too fast. Their revenue wasn’t able to sustain their growth. Other companies are struggling to create a viable business. They’re looking to move away from their traditional advertising and subscription funding model to embrace digital. But many of them missed the mark. For a long time, they offered their content for free to their users as the online offering grew.”
For its part, CNN concentrates several challenges. Although it remains profitable, its profits should fall below the billion mark for the first time since 2016. It is suffering in particular from a drop in viewership linked to the departure of its best client, Donald Trump, from the White House, the cost of his coverage of the war in Ukraine and the expenses associated with the failed launch of his streaming service. The merger of its parent company, Warner Bros, with Discovery, to create a new streaming giant, does not help its affairs: the group has to absorb more than 50 billion dollars in debt due to concerns about the economic climate. The winter will be hard.