Cosmic Justice: Thousands of Media Workers Responsible for Pushing the Info-Demic Are Losing Their Jobs

Sometimes you reap what you sow

You wanted shutdowns?? Now you have them!

The news media business was shaky before the coronavirus started spreading across the country last month. Since then, the economic downturn that put nearly 17 million Americans out of work has led to pay cuts, layoffs and shutdowns at many news outlets, including weeklies like Seven Days in Burlington, Vt., and Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain.

Finding a sizable audience has not been a problem for publishers. Hunger for news in a time of crisis has sent droves of readers to many publications.

But with businesses paused or closed — and no longer willing or able to pay for advertisements — a crucial part of the industry’s support system has cracked.

“The traffic numbers are still way up,” said David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association representing newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. “The digital subscriptions are hanging in there.”

He added, “The ad contraction is brutal and continuing.”

Hard data on job losses is not yet available, but Jed Kolko, the chief economist at, said new listings for jobs in the media and communications sector had fallen 35 percent in the 60 days before April 3, compared with the same period last year. The decline in postings for all jobs was less drastic, at 24 percent, suggesting that the pandemic has had a greater effect on the news media industry than on other businesses, Mr. Kolko added.

The New York Times has gauged the pandemic’s effects on newspapers, magazines and digital media companies through interviews with executives, newsroom employees and union leaders across the country. All told, an estimated 28,000 employees of news media companies in the United States have been laid off, furloughed or had their pay reduced since the arrival of the coronavirus.

Taking a Hit: Layoffs and Pay Cuts

Schneps Media, a local news publisher that recently acquired the free newspapers amNewYork and Metro New York, has laid off or furloughed about 30 employees at its roughly 50 community publications in New York City, according to Joshua Schneps, the chief executive. The cuts affected 20 percent of its work force.

BuzzFeed was headed toward profitability this year. Not anymore, said the chief executive Jonah Peretti in a March 25 staff memo. The news and lifestyle site has cut salaries in April and May for all U.S. employees making more than $40,000. Top executives will have a reduction of 25 percent, and Mr. Peretti will forgo his salary until the crisis has passed. BuzzFeed is also seeking partners for its operations in Brazil and Germany, and will close those offices if it cannot find takers, a spokesman said.

The Denver Post

The Post laid off 13 employees, including four journalists, on April 3, according to a member of a NewsGuild bargaining committee. The paper also asked all remaining employees to take three weeks of unpaid time off from April to July. The Post, which did not reply to a request for comment, is owned by MediaNews Group, a company controlled by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

Euclid Media Group

The owner of weeklies in cities like Cincinnati, Detroit and San Antonio laid off roughly 50 employees and furloughed 7, about 70 to 80 percent of its staff, in mid-March. “We will do whatever we do, one day at a time and scrap our way through this,” said Michael Wagner, the chief operating officer. Euclid’s revenue had sunk quickly because of pandemic-related drops in advertising and the company’s events business.


Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, The Detroit Free Press and more than 250 other daily newspapers, has ordered the majority of its 24,000 employees to take five days off per month without pay in April, May and June, staff memos revealed, and executives will take a 25 percent pay cut. Paul Bascobert, the chief executive, said he would not take his salary until the crisis was over. The NewsGuild, which represents journalists at several Gannett papers, criticized the plan. “Our nation simply cannot afford to furlough or lay off journalists and other news industry employees in this time of crisis,” said the union’s president, Jon Schleuss.

G/O Media

The owner of Gizmodo, Jezebel, The Onion and Deadspin laid off 14 people, or less than 5 percent of its employees, its chief executive, Jim Spanfeller, announced on April 3.

Group Nine Media

The publisher of The Dodo and NowThis laid off roughly 50 people, or 7 percent of its work force, on April 7, a spokeswoman said. Earlier, Group Nine had suspended 401(k) matches, put raises on hold, instituted a hiring freeze and cut executive pay 25 percent. Ben Lerer, the chief executive, will forgo his salary for six months.

In-flight magazines

A magazine genre caught between the stalled airlines industry and the troubled media business is in jeopardy. Sky magazine, which had been stuffed into seat backs of Delta jets for a decade, is no more, said Deb Hopp, a spokeswoman for the publishing company MSP-C. Its 16 staff members were laid off. In addition, Alaska Airlines has canceled the April and May issues of Alaska Beyond Magazine.

Lee Enterprises

With more than 70 papers, including The Buffalo News and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this national chain has instituted pay cuts and furloughs for its employees, according to a staff memo from Kevin Mowbray, the chief executive. Executives have taken a 20 percent pay cut. Lee Enterprises got bigger in January, when it bought 31 newspapers for $140 million from Berkshire Hathaway, whose chief executive, Warren Buffett, called the newspaper business “toast” last year.


In February, before coronavirus cases rose sharply in the United States, McClatchy, whose dailies include The Kansas City Star, The Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee, filed for bankruptcy. On Thursday, the chief executive Craig Forman said the decline in ads required a “leave of absence” for about 120 non-newsroom employees — or less than five percent of the work force, according to a spokeswoman. In addition, the company laid off four executives, and Mr. Forman will take a 50 percent pay cut.

The Outline

Bustle Digital Group folded The Outline, a news site for millennials, and laid off its 24-person staff on April 3. The company also cut pay for most employees at its other publications, including Bustle, Nylon and Romper. The Outline was vulnerable because it included material “that might not be so palatable to mainstream advertisers,” said Leah Finnegan, its former executive editor. She added, “It’s sad that a pandemic had to come between us.”

Sports Illustrated

Journalists at Sports Illustrated were among the 31 people laid off on March 30 by Maven, a digital platform and publisher in Seattle. Executives at Maven also took a 30 percent pay cut, James Heckman, the chief executive, said in a staff memo. The company bought Sports Illustrated in October and laid off employees at the storied publication shortly after the purchase.

The Times Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate

Georges Media, the owner of several Louisiana newspapers including The Times Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, furloughed 10 percent of its 120 newsroom employees in March. Other employees were shifted to four-day workweeks. “I forecast the revenue, and it wasn’t a pretty picture,” said Judi Terzotis, the publisher. “I felt like I needed to get ahead of the curve.”

Vice Media

The digital outlet and TV studio instituted four-day workweeks for staff members who earn more than $100,000 for a 90-day period starting in April, said Jesse Angelo, a company vice president, on a March 30 call. Those earning more than $125,000 will have their pay reduced by 20 percent. Employees making between $100,000 and $125,000 will take a 10-percent cut. Nancy Dubuc, the chief executive, will reduce her salary 50 percent.


Future Media Group, the publisher of the fashion magazine W, as well as Surface and Watch Journal, has suspended print operations and furloughed 30 staff members at least until the end of the crisis, the chief executive Marc Lotenberg said.

Tribune Publishing

The publicly traded company behind The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and The New York Daily News said on Thursday that it would permanently cut the salaries of those making more than $67,000 by 2 percent to 10 percent. The company will also offer an undisclosed number of buyouts, and employees have until April 17 to decide. The Tribune Publishing chief executive Terry Jimenez said he would not take his salary for two weeks. Other executives will also take pay cuts. Tribune Publishing, whose largest stakeholder is Alden Global Capital, did not reply to a request for comment.

Battening Down

American Media

Controlled by the hedge fund Chatham Asset Management, the publisher of The National Enquirer, In Touch and Us Weekly said on March 28 that it had cut the pay of all employees by 23 percent.

The Athletic

This disrupter of traditional sports sections, founded in 2016, has cut its executives’ salaries, a spokeswoman said. With no games to cover (and no travel expenses filed by its roughly 300 editorial employees), this subscription site is looking to preserve the $50 million it brought in during a recent fund-raising round.

Condé Nast

Raises have been put on hold at the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. A hiring slowdown has also gone into effect. And Condé Nast leaders are considering layoffs for staff members and pay cuts for executives, according to two people with knowledge of discussions. In a March 27 staff memo, Roger J. Lynch, the chief executive, acknowledged the difficulties for a company dependent on luxury industry: “Overall, we’re seeing many advertisers shift their investments with us to the second half of the year,” he wrote. “Others are decreasing or pausing their spend.”

The Dallas Morning News

With a paid Sunday circulation of 143,000, the paper has cut the pay of newsroom employees between 3 percent and 17 percent, its parent company, A.H. Belo, said in a public filing on April 6, and executive compensation has gone down as much as 27 percent.

San Francisco Media Company

The publisher of The San Francisco Examiner and SF Weekly has cut hours and pay for many employees and temporarily halted the weekly’s print edition. Deborah Petersen, the editor in chief, described the situation as a “cruel irony,” given that, one recent day, The Examiner website had 6,000 times its usual traffic.

Vox Media

The publisher of Vox, SB Nation, Eater and The Verge — and, since September, New York Magazine and its online offshoots — has not laid anyone off, but Jim Bankoff, its chief executive, said in an April 8 internal memo that measures could be in the offing “within the next week or so.” The company has largely frozen hiring, pledged to cut expenses and started accepting donations.

Print in Peril

The Austin Chronicle

The alt-city’s alt-weekly announced on March 20 that it would publish its print edition every other week. One of the Texas capital’s first 23 confirmed coronavirus cases was a staff member.

The Forum

The Forum, a locally owned daily paper in Fargo, N.D., announced that it had ceased publishing its Monday and Friday print editions.

India Abroad

This 50-year-old newspaper serving the Indian-American community has eliminated its print edition, said Suresh Venkatachari, the publisher of this New York publication, in a note to readers. Pandemic-related ad cancellations factored into the decision.

The Newtown Bee

This Connecticut weekly is ending its print edition, said the publisher, whose family has owned the paper since 1879; its online edition survives. The publication serves the community that was devastated by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

The Plain Dealer

The near-collapse of this venerable Cleveland daily, owned by Advance Publications, coincided with the economic downturn. The company laid off 22 of 36 newsroom employees on April 3, a move that benefited the Advance-owned, a news site whose articles have appeared in The Plain Dealer’s pages. Unlike The Plain Dealer, is not a union shop. After the layoffs, Advance reassigned most of the 14 remaining Plain Dealer journalists to cover areas outside Cleveland. On Friday, 10 of the reassigned reporters lost their jobs after they asked to be laid off, the Plain Dealer editor said. The Plain Dealer News Guild said that Advance had “put dedicated journalists in an impossible situation.”

San Diego Magazine

This city magazine, founded in the 1940s, has laid off 37 employees — everyone but the bookkeeper — while it waits out the pandemic, said Jim Fitzpatrick, the chief executive and publisher. The May issue is “in the can,” he added, but he is not sure when it will come out.

Seven Days

The free weekly in Burlington, Vt., whose circulation dwarfs that of the daily Burlington Free Press, laid off seven employees, said Paula Routly, the editor and publisher. She hopes to rehire them after the crisis.

The Stranger

Founded at the peak of grunge in 1991, the alt-weekly temporarily laid off 18 employees, citing what its print editor, Christopher Frizzelle, called a “hellscape of unforeseen economic events.”

Tampa Bay Times

Owned by The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit, this Florida daily has limited its print editions to two days a week — Wednesdays and Sundays — and issued eight-week furloughs “for some staffers whose work has been impacted by the virus’ effect on the economy,” a spokeswoman said. The furloughs do not apply to newsroom employees. Last month, in a move unrelated to the pandemic, the paper announced 11 layoffs and a 10 percent pay cut for full-time staff members.

Source: The New York Times

  1. Genghis Gobi says

    I don’t think it’s right to say “you reap what you sow” because the people being sacked are all low level staff who likely had no say in the editorial policies of their employers and who will not find work again in a hurry. The people making the evil decisions will all still be on the CIA payroll even if they’re not “taking any salary”.

  2. Rowdy-Yates says

    Finding a sizable audience has not been a problem for publishers. Hunger for news in a time of crisis has sent droves of readers to many publications..But with businesses paused or closed — and no longer willing or able to pay for advertisements — a crucial part of the industry’s support system has cracked.

    That is truly divine Justice. To read this news on Easter Weekend is for me the hand of God against the wicked

  3. XRGRSF says

    This is just another aspect of the Banksters positioning themselves to take over the economy. When the media corporations go under they will be reborn with Bankster management. An obscure fact is that banks are not allowed to run the corporations that they take over for non-payment of loans. Now there is a bill being fast tracked thru congress to allow the banks to do just that. There was an excellent article on the situation, as it relates to fracking, at NASDAQ yesterday. Soon the Banksters will literally be running the U$. What a bright future we have as slaves to the Banksters.

  4. Bill the Butcher says

    They need to learn to code just like coal miners did.

  5. ke4ram says

    A terrible shame!

  6. chris chuba says

    This touches a nerve. Not certain about how to manage ‘the lockdown’, I’d look at how China managed it since whatever they did actually worked but that’s not my point.

    I am 100% annoyed at the clucking MSM types on CNN informing us that it’s our duty to obey the lockdown orders as long as it takes with that smarmy grin on their face. Sure, that’s easy for Erin Burnett to say, she’s getting a nice paycheck. I wonder what these people would say if their jobs were at risk?
    Sadly the people most responsible for the epidemic (not China) are the ones most insulated from its impact.

    1. James Willy says

      There is a reason for that fact.
      IMO the reason is because these liars are allowed by the communities they live in to print and air these lies daily and nobody has EVER even bothered to do anything. People should start attacking these liars at their homes and if they are seen in public. Like a gas station. These journalists need to be taken out of the equation. People need to confront them in their faces right in public. Shout at them. Call them out on the lies they pump at WE THE PEOPLE. Stand up to them. Cause a crowd to form around them. Humiliate them.

      1. Ron Ronery says

        How can the populace confront the enemy (parasite within) when they can’t even come to terms with what happened 9/11. There is a substantial population than believe in the official narrative. I can understand how other proven conspiracies (i.e. CIA runs illegal drugs, USA invaded Iraq on false pretense of WMD etc..) can still be unbelievable because these things do not happen in front of your eyes but 9/11. The idea that 2 planes took down 3 building within hours. An explaination for the unconvinced. An airplane is an aluminum tube. It is like throwing a straw at a Wall. Any engineer can calculate the energy impact of said plane and also fuel energy. Fuel is calculated at blue flame temps since combustion is at atmospheric rate. This means temps are lower than required to melt steel.

        Then you have to calculate energy required to turn concrete to dust. I challenge you to pound some concrete with a sledge hammer for awhile and see if you can turn it into powder. Then you have to explain how the dust blew skyward as in an explosion.
        There is more, like “Chaos Theory” preventing symmetrical results (i.e. planes hitting each building at different floors, different angles, different payload etc. with identical outcomes). Most damming and for the non engineers of the world is to explain Building 7 which was not hit by an airplane; yet imploded on it’s footprint. Face reality. There are conspiracies in this world. There is a Cabal that operates secretly and is more brazen today than in past time.

        1. itchyvet says

          Spot on ! I believe, the World at large, KNOWS all of the above, with the exception of many Americans themselves. I also believe, that same World, whilst it’s hands are tied by blackmail and threats of sanctions, will keep their heads down and comply with demands grudgingly. BUT, that same World will also sit and watch unfolding events, and when the U.S. becomes embroiled dealing with internal events, will act in concert, otherwise this planet is doomed.

          1. Ron Ronery says

            People in power around the world know. They also know change cannot happen in the open; they will disappear if they try to openly expose the corruption. Things are happening behind the scenes. What can we do? Remove our rose coloured glasses placed there at birth. Understand all farmers in this world just want to feed the world. Understand resources like water are free for every human. Understand the Elites have used “divide and conquer” since time immemorial. Read alternative media and critically think. Nation States can live together peacefully.

    2. stevek9 says

      Don’t think Television advertising won’t be falling, along with cable subscriptions. People just don’t understand in any way what this is going to do (for nothing by the way). When it starts to affect food production and distribution … there will be violence.

      1. Ulricht says

        Violence? Doubtful. As long as the TV is still on Americans will sit on their couches imbibing all the crap they can get, and die slowly.

      2. itchyvet says

        Television advertising ??? L.O.L. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all week.
        My wife’s an avid T.V. watcher, every time I hear an add come on, I walk out there to see what they’re raving on about, and on each occassion, without fail, the advertisement refers to something that now cannot be done, without breaking the laws laid down for this Corona virus. Thus making all and every such add totally pointless, and the money paid to run them, wasted. The T.V. station owners must be rubbing their hands in glee.

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