Coronavirus job losses among media trigger world's smallest violin

Usually, when writing about coronavirus layoffs, we feel strong sympathy for those whose lives and livelihoods are being so terribly affected by this Black Swan event.  When those layoffs occur in the media, though, I'm sorry to report that the dominant response isn't sympathy; it's schadenfreude, that unseemly emotion of feeling joy in the face of another person's distress.

While there are undoubtedly many decent, honest journalists in America, and many journalists with families depending on them, one can't escape the fact that American journalism is mostly partisan, careless, and vicious.  Moreover, to the extent that journalists are biased, that runs in one direction, with 94% of journalists at the major media outlets donating to Democrats from 2008 to 2016.  Over the decades, journalists have morphed from reporters, who provide reasonably objective factual information, to propagandists, who try to flood America with a single political viewpoint.

The fewer of these people, the better, which brings us to a CNN report that "Hundreds of journalists are being laid off, right when the public needs them the most."  That title, incidentally, is an example of why "journalism" in America is so bad.  That hundreds of journalists are being laid off is a fact; that "the public needs them the most" is simply the media's sense of their importance, which is a highly subjective standard.

According to CNN, media outlets, which have been dogged by diminishing ad revenue in recent years (probably the consequence of providing a debased product), had high hopes for 2020.  Alas, it was not to be:

But no one could have predicted that a global health crisis would hit just as business was picking up.

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti told staffers in a memo this week that the company had been knocked off track because of coronavirus.

"Though we were well on track to be profitable this year, the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy will almost certainly cause the company to lose money, even as we take aggressive action to control costs," Peretti wrote.

BuzzFeed has instituted paycuts and scaled back on travel and hiring. According to the memo, which was obtained by CNN Business, Peretti will not take a salary for the rest of the year.


CNN Business reported on Sunday that at least 100 people in local newsrooms in the US lost their jobs in March. By Friday, that number shot up to at least 300 people as the impact of coronavirus continues to roil newspapers and digital media companies.

While BuzzFeed is cutting salaries, other outlets are firing people outright:

BuzzFeed avoided layoffs through salary reductions, but that strategy isn't being implemented everywhere. Future PLC, which owns Laptop Mag, Tom's Guide, Live Science and other publications, is planning to lay off at least nine employees out of 59 in the union, according to a statement from its union on Tuesday.

The CNN article notes an irony about the firings:

The sad twist about these layoffs and restructuring is that they come just as the public is hungry for information about the pandemic, but there are now fewer journalists to provide vital information about it. Traffic is up for many sites and TV ratings have increased as people are stuck at home watching the news.

If readership and viewership are generally up because of the virus, the above paragraph suggests that revenues are down because readers and viewers are finding that much-needed information from sources other than mainstream outlets.  After all, these outlets have proven themselves to be inaccurate and hysterical.

Twenty twenty is also the year in which California's A.B. 5 is taking effect.  This is the legislation that allows freelancers only 35 submissions per year to any single outlet.  Faced with bookkeeping madness, media outlets dumped their freelancers.  In another irony, A.B. 5 is a leftist initiative.

Journalists are turning their lonely eyes to other countries that are propping up their media outlets, such as Britain's BBC or Canada's CDC.  However, Joel Kaplan, a media studies professor at Syracuse University, warns that the U.S. government won't help.  The government's involvement is limited, he said, to NPR and PBS.  (Given those outlets' overt political bias, many of us wish the government would be less involved.)

No wonder that conservatives on Twitter reveled in schadenfreude:









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