27% Of Large U.S. Newspapers Laid Off Staff In 2018

The Pew Research Center released some sobering data this week. Around one-quarter of newspapers with an average Sunday circulation of 50,000 or more experienced layoffs in 2018.

The hardest-hit group of newspapers were in the mid-market range, with an average Sunday circulation between 100,000 and 249,999.

According to the analysis, a smaller share of newspapers had layoffs this year than last, with 32% of those papers taking a hit in 2017 and 27% in 2018. However, many of those large papers, 31%, had more than one round of layoffs last year.

Of the 31% that experienced layoffs in 2017, 9% of those papers had layoffs again in 2018.

Among the newspapers studied for the analysis, 62% laid off more than 10 people in 2018, up from the 42% that did in 2017, signaling that while layoffs were slightly down, the damage wrought by them went up.



In 2017, the largest papers were most likely to experience layoffs. In 2018, it was the mid-market papers.

When the center looked at the health of digital-native news outlets, it found 14% of the high-traffic digital-native news outlets went through layoffs, down from roughly 20% in 2017.

Six in 10 digital-native news sites, or 61% were included in the analysis.

Among those digital-native outlets, nearly all cut more than 10 employees when laying staff off in 2017 and 2018, but few had multiple rounds of layoffs in either year.

The analysis also looked at buyouts across newspapers and digital-first outlets. Some 14% of newspapers offered buyouts in 2018, roughly the same as the 18% offering buyouts in 2017. 

Of the digital-native outlets, only 8% offered buyouts in 2018, the report concludes.

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