The Dallas Morning News — still family controlled — shears its newsroom by 20

This post is by Christine Schmidt from Nieman Lab

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The Dallas Morning News, one of the largest remaining independently owned metro newspapers, announced it was laying off 43 staffers, 20 in its newsroom, Monday. The layoffs reach from senior writers to community reporters, with varying levels of time at the organization. The News is owned by A.H. Belo, which is publicly traded but still family-run; Belo used to include a number of other newspapers and a chain of TV stations, but it’s now mostly just the News. (I should note I spent a summer there as an intern and Nieman Lab head honcho Joshua Benton worked there for eight years. We’re both digital subscribers.) The News pointed to
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The Outline built itself on being “weird.” But is it weird enough to survive?

This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab

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There are some sites that everyone roots for. Scrappy, beloved. See: The Awl. The Toast. Or not so scrappy, but beloved still. See: Grantland. When they shut down, people mourn them. Then there’s The Outline. In April 2016, Joshua Topolsky wrote a Medium post entitled “Your media business will not be saved.” Topolsky, the cofounder of The Verge, had left his position as Bloomberg’s top digital editor several months before. “Your problem,” he told his fellow media people, “is that you make shit”:
A lot of shit. Cheap shit. And no one cares about you or your cheap shit. And an increasingly aware, connected, and mutable audience is onto your cheap shit. They don’t want your cheap shit. They want the good shit. And they will go to find it somewhere. Hell, they’ll even pay for it. The truth is that the best and most important things the
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Upworthy just laid off 31 people. The question remains why.

This post is by Marlee Baldridge from Nieman Lab

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Good Media Group, which owns viral site Upworthy and Good Magazine, cut at least 31 employees yesterday. The layoffs were first announced on Thursday afternoon in a tweet from editor-in-chief Liz Heron, who said she is also resigning. Upworthy CEO Charlie Wilkie also resigned Thursday, and Upworthy cofounder Eli Pariser said in a tweeted statement that he’d resigned from his board position last week.

The New York Daily News slashes half its editorial team (and it’s not alone)

This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab

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“If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.” That was a tweet at 1:40 a.m. this morning from Jim Rich. A little later, he changed his Twitter bio, which had read “Editor-in-Chief at NY Daily News,” to “Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.” The Daily News layoff rumors proved true on Monday morning when Tronc, the Daily News’ parent company, announced it’s laying off 50 percent of the paper’s editorial team (which was already down to about 85) and “refocusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.”

Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Reportedly on Its Last Legs After Another Brutal Round of Layoffs

This post is by Tamar Auber from Mediaite

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Glenn Beck’s media empire is continuing to crumble. According to a Daily Beast report, jobs are being slashed at TheBlaze and there are signs that Beck’s woes are not over. In addition to the more than a dozen employees reported fired this week, it appears a buyer who expressed interest in Beck’s media venture has backed out, leaving TheBlaze now down to less than 50 employees and with no clear infusion of cash in the foreseeable future. The Daily Beast reports:
A potential lifeboat in the form of a proposed sale to the billionaire owners of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s website The Daily Wire now appears unlikely. A source familiar with the negotiations told The Daily Beast that talks between the two parties broke down and the sale is now effectively dead.
TheBlaze has gone through a number of rounds of layoffs in recent years, including one that Beck Continue reading "Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze Reportedly on Its Last Legs After Another Brutal Round of Layoffs"

Vox Media Announces Layoffs of About 50 Staffers

This post is by Rachel Dicker from Mediaite

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In a huge stripdown of many of its verticals as well as its native social video operation, Vox Media is laying off about 50 employees, according to an internal email from the company’s CEO, Jim Bankoff. “Today is one of the toughest days we’ve had as a company,” Bankoff wrote. “As a result of our decision to wind down certain initiatives, we’ll be saying goodbye to some of our talented colleagues who have made valuable contributions to our success.” Bankoff elaborated that the layoffs would mostly affect company verticals Racked (which focuses on fashion), Curbed (on real estate and city living), and SB Nation (on sports). Further, the teams that will be affected were meeting and exceeding company goals, but were not, in the company’s Continue reading "Vox Media Announces Layoffs of About 50 Staffers"

Post-Facebook News Feed tweaks, Vox Media lays off 50 employees

This post is by Ricardo Bilton from Nieman Lab

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Publishers’ pivot to video appears to have become a pivot to layoffs. And not even the biggest and most successful of digital-native companies is safe. Vox Media, one of the many companies that embraced social video over the past two years, said Wednesday that it will lay off 50 employees, approximately five percent of its workforce, The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr first reported. The layoffs will affect its Racked, Curbed, and SBNation sites, as well as its video services division, which produces content designed to live on social platforms. In a memo sent to staffers this morning, CEO Jim Bankoff blamed the layoffs on “industry changes over the past few months,” presumably referring to Facebook’s recent decision to reduce the percentage of News Feed content from publishers’ pages. While Vox Media’s native social video efforts “were growing successfully and surpassing their audience growth goals,” Bankoff wrote, “those initiatives won’t be Continue reading "Post-Facebook News Feed tweaks, Vox Media lays off 50 employees"

Slow News: How Taking the Time to Listen and Focus Can Help Journalism’s Future

This post is by Damian Radcliffe from MediaShift

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I’ll admit that I’ve previously been skeptical about ideas of digital detoxes and media fasts. Instead, I’ve subscribed to Clay Shirky’s maxim: “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure.” But, last week, whilst attending the 2017 International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, I began to change my mind. Sitting in a beautiful, cool, stone courtyard, sipping espresso and surrounded by promotional material for a local Slow Food festival, I began to sketch out some thoughts for a panel on Slow News that I had been asked to contribute to. Ensconced in this relaxing environment, I quickly identified several reasons why news consumers, content creators and managers, could all benefit from taking their foot off the gas… Just a little bit.


Photo by Kaboompics and used with Creative Commons license.

My trip corresponded with large bouts of digital abstinence. This was unintended. Six flights in six days,
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Report: ESPN to Make ‘Significant’ On-Camera Talent Layoffs

This post is by Joe DePaolo from Mediaite

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shutterstock_292899572 (2) A new report says that “significant” layoffs are about to impact ESPN’s on-camera lineup. According to Sports Illustrated, the network plans to make the cuts over the next four months, with the focus being on downsizing talent. The report says that ESPN is looking to shed tens of millions of dollars in salary, and will also buyout some existing contracts. As of last August, the channel cost cable subscribers $7.21 per month. But the network, which once boasted more than 100 million subscribers, is now reportedly down to less than 88 million. That number seems likely to shrink as younger consumers continue to cut the cable cord. Further, ESPN is locked into a number of costly rights deals with various leagues and sports properties. ESPN has long-term agreements with, among others: The NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, and several major college conferences. It is also the home Continue reading "Report: ESPN to Make ‘Significant’ On-Camera Talent Layoffs"

Daily Must Reads in Media & Technology, April 13, 2016

This post is by Courtney Lowery Cowgill from MediaShift

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Must Reads is MediaShift’s daily curation of the big stories about media and technology from across the web. Sign up here to get these delivered right to your inbox.

1. BuzzFeed Slashes Revenue Forecast: Is This the Beginning of the End of the Millennial Media Bubble? (Maya Kosoff / Vanity Fair)

2. BuzzFeed Didn’t Cut its 2016 Forecast in Half, Says BuzzFeed Chair Ken Lerer (Peter Kafka / Re/code)

3. Layoffs Hit Salon (Kelsey Sutton and Peter Sterne / Politico Media)

4. Live, Local, Late Breaking: On Facebook Live, News Outlets Take a Cue From TV (But Don’t Call It TV) (Shan Wang / Nieman Lab)

5. Facebook Says Users Show Preference For Instant Articles Over Mobile Web Articles (Jack Marshall / Wall Street Journal)

6. FBI Paid Professional Hackers One-Time Fee to Crack San Bernardino iPhone (Ellen Nakashima / Washington Post)

7. How Bloomberg’s 20-Person Graphics Team Visualizes the Continue reading "Daily Must Reads in Media & Technology, April 13, 2016"

Gawker Lays Off Employees and Rebrands as Politics Site

This post is by Andrew Husband from Mediaite

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gawker logoGawker Media laid off several staff members ahead of plans to rebrand the flagship as a politics media organization. According to the New York Times, the company announced the changes in a memo distributed to employees on Tuesday. Gawker founder Nick Denton wrote that the website “will ride the circus of the 2016 campaign cycle, seizing the opportunity to reorient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire.” “Is there any doubt,” he continued, “that the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, a contest between reality-defying fabulists and the last representatives of two exhausted political dynasties will provide rich new opportunities for sensation and satire?” Yet whether or not Gawker employees were as excited about Denton’s political ambitions as Denton was remains to be seen — especially for those staff members who are no longer with the company. According to The Awl, an unidentified Gawker insider Continue reading "Gawker Lays Off Employees and Rebrands as Politics Site"

Former SportsCenter Anchor on Layoffs: ESPN Is Now a ‘Soulless Monolith’

This post is by Andrew Desiderio from Mediaite

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espnAs ESPN begins laying off as many as 300 employees, one former anchor for the network says it has now turned into a “soulless monolith.” “The pain, anger, frustration, sadness and outrage I feel after the mass executions (harsh, but occupationally and socially correct) of the past week of so many people I know, worked, lived and grew up with is enormously painful,” former SportsCenters anchor Charley Steiner wrote Friday on Facebook. “As ESPN grew from the soulful little sports cable station into the soulless monolith it has become, we were the last ones to realize what it would become.” Steiner, who is now the radio play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, described his tenure at ESPN as a family experience that was at times “geographically and socially challenging.” “I supposed we were on the so-called cutting edge,” Steiner added. “But that doesn’t seem to matter much anymore. Now it’s Continue reading "Former SportsCenter Anchor on Layoffs: ESPN Is Now a ‘Soulless Monolith’"

As giant platforms rise, local news is getting crushed

This post is by Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab

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Editor’s note: The new issue of our sister publication Nieman Reports is out and ready for you to read. I write a column for the print edition of the magazine; here’s my depressing one from the new issue.

This has not been a good year for local news. nieman-reports-summer-2015That’s a sentence I could have written any year for the past decade, for a host of reasons now numbingly familiar. But 2015 has felt like a turning point for the most threatened sector of the American news ecosystem. And I’m worried that some of what hopefulness remains in the system is being wrung out by changes in the larger digital world. There will still be success stories, sure. But the most important job that local news has done for decades — providing a degree of accountability to thousands of local communities across the country — is increasingly going undone. And

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Union Rep Reveals ‘Small’ Round of WaPo Layoffs, Clash with Newspaper

This post is by Tina Nguyen from Mediaite

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The Washington Post is reportedly undergoing a minor round of layoffs, trimming a “small” number of staff and offering buyout packages to those affected. The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild’s co-chair Frederick Kunckle broke the news on the Guild’s Facebook page, revealing that the people laid off had been subjected to an out-of-nowhere performance evaluation and offered buyout packages. “You have the right to politely interrupt the meeting and request that a Guild representative be present” if they thought that they would be fired imminently, he said according to Washingtonian:
In every case that we know of, these employees were blindsided. In one instance, management attempted to stretch the terms of the contract to lay off an employee. In another, management yet again failed to live up to the standards of its performance evaluation system. Similar to efforts that were more widespread before Amazon multibillionaire Jeff Bezos bought the Post, management cooked up a performance evaluation out of nowhere to try force a buyout. And even in the case of a recent hire who did not have job security because the employee had not served out a probationary period as required by our contract, management could not help tossing in gratuitous — and unfounded — accusations of performance problems.
He also hinted that the newspaper and the union continued to struggle over pension reductions and cuts to retirement package benefits. “Expect a bulletin soon from the company about how the Guild’s painstaking efforts to fashion a response to the company’s pension grab — a needless move by the Post’s owner that would cost employees here thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, each — is taking so long that the union is depriving everyone of the 1 percent pay raise the company has already offered,” he wrote. The full letter can be read here. [Image via Shutterstock] – >> Follow Tina Nguyen (@Tina_Nguyen) on Twitter Continue reading "Union Rep Reveals ‘Small’ Round of WaPo Layoffs, Clash with Newspaper"

Jeff Zucker Will Meet with CNN DC Employees After Layoff Rounds

This post is by Tina Nguyen from Mediaite

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The severe round of layoffs at CNN is affecting the network’s DC bureau, and tensions are reportedly so high there that network chief Jeff Zucker is personally meeting with the employees this week to assuage their concerns. The plans to cut its staff by 300 employees — as part of Turner Broadcasting’s “restructuring” — hit CNN’s DC bureau in particular, cutting nearly 50 employees while adding at least 20 people on the digital side. Politico reports that the firings, along with the new hires and reports of employees receiving raises and promotions, has sent morale plummeting and created tension. (A staff member told Politico that last Friday, during the most recent round of layoffs, “people were crying all over the bureau.”) So this meeting should be, well, interesting:
The email, sent to all members of the D.C. staff and forwarded to POLITICO by network sources, was titled “EMPLOYEE MEETING WITH JEFF ZUCKER.” “I want to hear from you. So I hope you can join me next week for an informal employee gathering,” Zucker wrote in the email. “No agenda, no talking points. Just a chance to spend some time, answer your questions, hear what’s on your minds,” he continued. “I hope to see you there.”

Overall, Turner Broadcasting plans on cutting 1,475 positions through a combination of buyouts and layoffs, and has eliminated entire departments in order to do so. While the layoffs were inevitable at CNN, employees had earlier complained to Politico that Zucker was executing the layoffs poorly:
“No one has said, ‘This is tough, but here’s the road ahead,’” an employee said… “Many employees who are left are terrified of being let go,” the staffer said. “The management in the bureau is forcing most remaining producers to sign contracts, because they are worried even more people are going to leave the company, and the bureau can’t run with fewer people than are staffed now. So as a huge group has been let go, [others] are getting promotions and huge raises, which has made the last month horrible between the haves and have nots.”
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The New York Times has used newsroom cutbacks to reshape as much as to shrink

This post is by Justin Ellis from Nieman Lab

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The New York Times newsroom is less downsizing than it is “recalibrating,” to use a phrase from Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone. It’s an interesting assessment of how the Times’ several rounds of buyouts and layoffs (including the one announced last week) have shifted the makeup of the staff. The Times plans to cut 100 newsroom positions, but the current size of the newsroom, around 1,330, is roughly the same as it was during the peak period of 2008, Calderone writes. And even with the cuts, the Times newsroom would still be among the largest in the business. Most buyouts are designed to incentivize the more seasoned workers; the more years you have with the company the more weeks you’ll likely be paid out in an exit. But the Times is investing those saved dollars in new jobs, specifically digital roles in video, mobile development, and the newly formed audience engagement team. These were among a few areas the paper identified as critical to the future of the Times in the leaked innovation report. Calderone does the math on the many rounds of cutbacks:
The Times eliminated a number of legacy print positions through these three staff reductions, while at the same time hiring staff for digital, mobile, and video. The paper has also continued to invest in lifestyle coverage, such as T Magazine and Styles, as well as expanding divisions like data and graphics. The Times is also now building an audience engagement team. So far in 2014, the Times’ newsroom has grown by 79 staffers to its current total of 1,330. That’s now twice the number of staffers at The Washington Post, which like the Times has been through a series of buyouts and layoffs in recent years. Even after a hiring binge under its new owner, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, the paper boasts only 650 newsroom staffers, down from a peak of 900 in the mid-2000s. The Los Angeles Times, which had 1,200 newsroom employees in 2001, was reduced to about 550 over the next decade through a series of cutbacks. A Los Angeles Times spokesperson declined to provide the most recent newsroom figures.

Changing the makeup of a newsroom is difficult and painful work: Companies want to keep institutional knowledge but also provide openings for new talent that may be more adaptable to the changes in the industry. Sometimes those skills are mapped along generational lines — sometimes not. But here’s a useful visualization from Le Soir, the French-language newspaper in Belgium — and a place with a very different set of labor laws — that shows why media companies are eager to transform their newsrooms:

CNN to Cut 300 Jobs

This post is by Tina Nguyen from Mediaite

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Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of CNN, announced today that it was laying off 10 percent of its staff worldwide, with the news network slated to lose 300 employees via buyouts and layoffs, as part of an initiative to “save money and refocus investment.” CNN’s Brian Stelter reports that in total, the parent company will axe about 1,475 positions. According to a memo sent out by Turner CEO John Martin, the layoffs will affect not just CNN, but also other Turner properties like Cartoon Network and TBS. “Those whose jobs are impacted will receive every consideration and the respect they are due, starting with severance pay for transition,” Martin said. “Whatever their job title, business unit or location, they have contributed to the success story that is Turner Broadcasting, and they leave with our thanks and sincere best wishes.” CNN in particular will lose about 8.5 percent of his workforce, and has offered 130 voluntary buyout packages to employees who are over 55 and have been at the company for 10 years. The rest will be laid off. [h/t Politico]
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USA Today Lays Off Over 60 Employees, Cuts Newsroom Staff

This post is by Tina Nguyen from Mediaite

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USA Today announced this morning that it was laying off between 60 and 70 workers, with nearly half those cuts coming from the newsroom, due to declining print ad revenue.

According to their own reporting, 8% of USA Today’s journalists were laid off, some of them 25-year veterans of the company.

And, of course, the cuts stem from print media’s slow decline in the face of the internet: the paper’s president and publisher Larry Kramer told the staff that the “move was made due to a difficult and inconsistent national print advertising market and to accelerate the newsroom’s digital transition”

Reporters like Korina Lopez told Jim Romenesko that they didn’t see it coming:

“Took all of five minutes to disassemble 11 years of work. Nights, weekends, holidays, ungodly hours, missed key moments in my daughter’s early childhood… And with the explanation that it was a business decision and that I did nothing wrong. None of us saw this coming. Not even a suggestion. Quite the bombshell.”

[Image via Gil C /]

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NPR Cuts 28 Positions, Ends Tell Me More

This post is by Tina Nguyen from Mediaite

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In an email sent to staffers today, a National Public Radio executive announced that the station was cutting 28 positions, as well as ending a popular program, Tell Me More, on August 1st. “These hard choices are part of a plan that restructures the newsroom for the future,” Margaret Low Smith, senior VP of News, told staffers. “While we have cut positions, we’re also creating new ones to strengthen our coverage and better serve the audience.” As part of the round of cuts, 20 staffers will be laid off, while eight open positions will not be filled. Most of the cuts will come from Tell Me More, as well as in the News Division and in the Library. Michel Martin, the host of Tell Me More, will continue to work at NPR, as well as a core group of her team from the program. According to Low Smith, the cuts are only a small part of “other [changes] we are making throughout the newsroom”:
Our aim is to build editorial hubs that combine the digital and audio skills of reporters, editors, producers and bloggers around specific areas of focus.

We are creating a new News Desk to serve as the hub for breaking news and quick turn-around stories. This will bring together two units that already coordinate naturally: our Two Way news bloggers and our newscasters. We will turn our Washington Desk into another multiplatform hub committed to original and enterprise reporting on politics and policy. We will also combine the radio and digital teams covering the arts into a hub for Arts and Culture.

These new hubs will join those that are already up and running, such as our newly launched Education team and our Global Health and Development hub.

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