More evidence that the news media is in the dumpster emerged this week with the news that 500 workers lost their jobs last week. The layoffs occurred at Vice, Quartz, The Economist, Conde Nast and Buzzfeed. It is now abundantly clear the industry needs a new business model apart from ad revenue and subscription income. (Axios, May 20, 2020, by Sara Fischer and Scott Rosenberg)
During the pandemic, people are clamoring for news, but ad revenues are disappearing. Faced with the prospect of the pandemic dealing a death blow to the industry, leaders must not only consider job-sharing, more cuts to executive salaries and allowing staff to claim unemployment while retaining some pay. “Framing such options clearly requires an honest appraisal of all the ways our business went wrong—whether or not they’re linked to the pandemic,” writes Jon Allsop in the Columbia Journalism Review, May 18, 2020.
To revive local journalism, media professor Victor Pickard says some have proposed starting donor-funded nonprofits, but that it might be time to revive the municipal newspaper that emerged as an antidote to yellow journalism and fake news in the early 20th century. In Los Angeles the taxpayers funded the Los Angles Municipal News in 1912. With a substantial stable income, the newspaper was run by a commission of three citizens subject to recall at any time. (The Washington Post, May 18, 2020, by Victor Pickard)