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Media Layoffs at Highest Level Since 2009 Great Recession

More than 15,000 media jobs — most of which came from news organizations — were cut in 2018

Here’s some sobering news for anyone in journalism school: media layoffs are at their highest level since 2009.

Nearly 15,500 media jobs were axed last year, according to a new report from executive placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas released on Thursday. That includes publishing, broadcasting, television and movie jobs.

Most of those job losses came from news organizations, however, where 11,878 people were laid off in 2018 — a spike of 281 percent from 2017, when about 4,000 people in the industry were let go.

The 2018 cuts were the most since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2009, when 22,346 people lost their jobs.

Key business shifts, compounded by tech giants Facebook and Google combining to grab the lion’s share of digital advertising revenue, led to the industry-wide shakeup, according to the report.

“Members of the media, especially journalists, have had a tough few years. Many jobs were already in jeopardy due to a business model that tried to meet consumer demand for free news with ad revenue,” Andrew Challenger, VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said. “As media outlets attempted to put news behind pay walls, in many markets, consumers opted not to pay.”

2019 hasn’t had an auspicious start, either. Several major media outlets, including Vice, BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, have cut jobs since the beginning of the year.

One option for media companies? Challenger said they could look to monetize users’ data, similar to Facebook and Google, but he added there are “obvious ethical implications” to that model.

“Ultimately, the quality of the country’s news will start to decline if we as users refuse to pay for it,” Challenger said.

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