Media layoffs signal changing industry
The start of 2019 has not been kind to journalism. In the first month of the new year, over 2,000 journalists across the country have been fired. Buzzfeed, VICE and HuffPost were all among the media companies to announce major layoffs.
So, what do these layoffs mean for aspiring journalists, such as myself, who will begin looking for jobs as soon as next month? It can be unsettling, for sure. Thinking about it can leave a pit in your stomach and leave you questioning career decisions.
Yet, at the same time, we need to look at the big picture. Journalism is in a transition period as we enter the workforce. The entire industry is changing and every media company, from small-town newspapers to major nationwide networks, is trying to figure out a new sustainable model.
New business models and industry change always come with some bumps in the road. Layoffs, while scary and worrisome, are part of the process. As the industry begins to figure out how to succeed in this new age of journalism, the bumps will become smaller and less frequent.
A great example of this is The New York Times (NYT). In 2018, NYT added 120 jobs to their newsroom. This increased the number of journalists in the newsroom to 1,600 – the largest number in their storied history. They also brought in over $700 million in digital revenue as more people turn away from print product.
The Times is finding ways to stay profitable in our digital age. It’s a model that other companies could benefit from as well. Over 3.3 million people currently subscribe to NYT digital platforms and the number is only increasing each year.
So take note, media companies. The way to a profitable future isn’t by continuously cutting newsrooms to save a few bucks. Instead, by putting out a quality product that people are willing to pay for and then reinvesting that profit into more hiring, companies can still find success.
I do believe that the NYT business model is the way forward for journalism. The best way to both remain profitable and fight fake news is through subscription journalism. Even companies that are solely online, such as Buzzfeed and VICE, are going to reach a point where they have no choice but to charge for their content. The only way to produce high quality stories is to have a newsroom large enough to cover them well.
Luckily for these media companies, there is an army of young journalists ready to step up and be hired. They are well versed in the new technology and prepared to help them advance into this new era. They are able to tell stories in ways that engage audiences in new ways. They are hungry to find meaningful stories and bring them into the light.
During this time of change and uncertainty, media companies will need to rely heavily on this new generation of journalists to bring them into the digital world. So, should I and other soon-to-be graduates be worried about finding a job? I would say no, because we’re ready to be a vital part of journalism’s transition to a new age.