Media on the Move: Week of August 27

By Charles Trowbridge

Amid the natural disaster catastrophes and political calamity heating up in August, the media landscape continues to shift. Reporters are making moves to digital newsrooms, going in-house for private companies or moving on to other endeavors. On Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald announced it eliminated 23 staff positions, including 10 layoffs. Slightly less sympathetic, but just as significant, the New York Daily News cut half its newsroom staff in July, as reported by the Huffington Post.

In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, more than one-third of large newspapers in U.S. have suffered layoffs between January 2017 and April 2018 – a fairly staggering number considering that many of those publications have already poured resources into digitization to avoid taking those kinds of hits.

As part of its jobs issue, the Columbia Journalism Review looked at the history of newsroom buy-outs since the financial crisis of 2008. In the past, the article notes, buy-out offers were generally strong and could provide journalists a chance to make relatively seamless transitions into other areas of work or to other publications. Today, however, buy-outs do not provide the same kind of cushion, and most journalists take them as a last resort to leave on their own terms.

What does this mean for the media landscape in general? In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Christopher Daly argued that the ‘death’ of journalism is being oversimplified:

“The picture is not so bleak if you look at the bigger category of people who work in what might be called ‘the media,’” he writes. “… NPR is having a banner year, as are MSNBC and Fox News. The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are reporting record numbers of digital subscribers.”

Instead, he says, the impact is being felt at the local and state levels, where the media’s traditional role as a watchdog is either being undermined or eliminated completely.

In the tech world, an apt comparison might be that there are increasingly fewer and fewer reporters able to cover more of the niche subject areas, or that reporters are bombarded by pitches and can only afford to focus on news that includes big names or big moves.

At any rate, the past few months have seen significant movement by reporters across the board as the sands continue to shift.

CNN: Ahiza Garcia joins CNN’s tech team after three years with CNNMoney

Wall Street Journal: Ben DiPietro left the publication after seven years

New York Times: Erin Griffith left Wired to cover startups and VCs

TechCrunch: Kristin Korosec joined TechCrunch to cover auto technology and transportation

TechCrunch: Kate Clark, formerly of PitchBook, joined the publication to cover startups and VCs

Town & Country: Sam Dangremond left full time position after eight years, remains as contributing editor

FierceRetail: the publication was discontinued, and former editor Jacqueline Renfrow is now freelancing

Conde Nast: the publisher put Brides, Golf Digest and W magazines up for sale after losing more than $120 million in 2017