For years now, headlines of newsroom layoffs have illustrated a dire state of affairs for today's world of journalism, and a 16-month study recently released by the Pew Research Center suggests the hits aren’t letting up anytime soon.
Pew’s recent study, which compiled layoff data occurring at the largest U.S. daily newspapers and digital-native news outlets between Jan. 1, 2017, and April 30, 2018, found that a sizable share of both our largest print and digital outlets publishers to exhibit massive job cuts.
Of the 110 daily papers included in Pew’s study, 36 percent (or 40 newspaper companies) were found to have enacted layoffs between January ’17 and April ’18, with at least a dozen experiencing more than one round.
Newsroom employees at newspapers counted 39,000 jobs last year, according to Pew, compared to 46,000 positions in 2014.
Among newspapers, the largest in the country — those boasting a circulation of at least 250,000 — were most likely to have experienced layoffs. According to Pew’s findings, nine of the 16 newspapers with circulations of 250,000 or more (56 percent) experienced layoffs during the 16-month study period, as did 16 of the 44 newspapers with circulations between 100,000 and 249,999 (36 percent) and 15 of the 50 newspapers with circulations between 50,000 and 99,999 (30 percent).
Big cuts affected the digital world as well, where at least 23 percent of the highest-traffic digital-native news outlets in the country experienced layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018.
One silver lining can be found in the fact that the digital-native news sector gained about 2,000 newsroom jobs between 2014 and 2017. Unfortunately, these small gains weren’t nearly enough to offset the staff positions lost in the print world, which saw roughly 7,000 jobs cut during that same three-year period.
Pew’s analysis examined layoff-related data from 145 news outlets, including 110 newspapers with a circulation of at least 50,000 and 35 digital-native news outlets with a monthly average of at least 10 million unique visitors. Articles analyzed didn’t always mention the kinds of positions eliminated, so the layoffs analyzed in Pew’s study were not necessarily always newsroom employees.