More Than a Quarter of Big Newspapers Had Layoffs in 2018

New Pew Research data shows the negative trends for the newspaper industry continued last year

Scott Olson/Getty Images

More than a quarter of large newspapers had layoffs in 2018, according to latest data from the Pew Research Center, which confirms what is already known: This is a bad time for the industry.

27% of U.S. newspapers with an average Sunday circulation of 50,000 or more experienced at least one publicly reported layoff in 2018, according to analysis of a new study. Yes, that’s lower than 2017, when layoffs hit 32% of newspapers in that circulation range, 9%of the papers that fell into that range in those years saw layoffs both times.

Earlier this month, Pew analysis found that the number of newsroom jobs at newspapers has declined 47% in the last decade. There was a reported 82% increase in digital-native newsroom positions totaling about 6,100 jobs, which the center pointed out at the time does little to offset the loss of 33,000 newspaper newsroom jobs.

Newspaper circulation reached its lowest point since 1940 in 2018, according to an assessment of the news media earlier last week.

Downward trends in news media, especially at newspapers, have underscored the need for creative solutions. Some outlets have turned to paywalls and ads. Others, like, are using text messaging-based subscriptions to compete in the digitally-savvy world, although digital-first outlets are having their share of problems, too, and are hardly immune to layoffs. Since the beginning of 2019, several major media outlets, including ViceBuzzFeed and Huffington Post, have cut jobs.