Publishers Predicted To See 'Biggest Wave Of Layoffs In Years'

  • by January 15, 2019
This year, traditional and digital publishers will see “the biggest wave of journalistic layoffs in years” as they struggle to replace ad revenue lost to tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

That’s one prediction from a Reuters Institute worldwide survey that also found about  one-third of publishers will “get no help from anyone else" in paying for their journalism.

More than half of respondents (52%) said subscription revenue is the main focus in 2019, followed by display advertising (27%), native advertising (8%) and donations (7%). That’s not to say that display advertising will lose all significant for publishers. About 81% of survey respondents described such ads as “important,” more than any other category.

“Publishers are looking to subscriptions to make up the difference, but the limits of this are likely to become apparent in 2019,” Nic Newman, senior research associate, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said in the report. “Taken together, these trends are likely to lead to the biggest wave of journalistic lay-offs in years.”



While it’s reassuring that 29% of publishers won’t get outside financial help, it’s also worrisome how many survey respondents said significant additional support for journalism most likely will come from foundations and nonprofits (29%), platform companies (18%) and government (11%).

In other words, someone other than the reading public will set the editorial agenda of a more handicapped news media.

Companies like Facebook and Google have committed more money and resources to support local journalism amid growing criticism of their lack of corporate responsibility. They have been blamed for draining financial resources from publishers whose journalistic efforts are one of the strongest firewalls against the inferno of “fake news” on their platforms.

More publishers want to wean diversify away from Facebook, the survey found, which makes good business sense after the social network has demonstrated its power to kill off web traffic with changes to its News Feed algorithm.

“The news industry is losing patience with Facebook, and publishers are re-focusing attention elsewhere,” Newman said in the report.

Google was rated as “very” or “extremely” important among 87% of respondents, compared with 43% for Apple News and Facebook and 42% for YouTube.

“Subscription-based publishers are increasingly looking at social media as a marketing and acquisition channel, not primarily as a place to engage users with content,” the report said.

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