Media jobs are infamously precarious, with seeming seasons of unexpected rounds of layoffs and company “restructuring.” Last December, Maya Kosoff reported on “The Human Toll of the 2019 Media Apocalypse” for Medium, as more than 3,000 journalists lost their jobs. Now, with millions of jobs lost to the Coronavirus crisis, the media industry is barely hanging on.
Over the last year, Vox Media ($PRIVATE:VOXMEDIA) — which owns The Verge, Vox, SB Nation, Eater, Polygon, and Curbed — has been steadily cutting back on new job postings with some ebb and flow along the way.
In May of 2019, the new-media giant faced a walkout as Vox Union workers demanded raises that matched inflation rates and fair severance packages. Job openings were at 82 at the time. The company cut hundreds of freelancers last December, after job postings hit a low of 54. Just last month, job postings were at 83. They have since dropped 33%.
Vice Media ($PRIVATE:VICEMEDIA), the Brooklyn hipster-magazine-turned-media-monster, went on a bit of a hiring spree last September. Openings grew 264% by January 1. There was a 25% jump at the beginning of March that fell off as the month wore on and Coronavirus took hold. Job postings are now down 22% from March.
Buzzfeed’s job listings rose 93% from last Christmas to mid-March, up from 45 to 87. In just a month, the number of openings has plummeted to 7.
Legacy publications and news outlets are facing hiring cuts too, but the numbers are less immediately drastic. The New York Times’ ($NYT) job listings have dropped 12% since March, after seeing 28% growth from the start of 2020.
Bloomberg ($PRIVATE:BLOOMBERG) had been expanding its job listings since the start of 2020, but they’ve been falling off since March. So far, job openings are down 10% from last month
Meanwhile, Business Insider’s ($PRIVATE:BUSINESSINSIDER) employee headcount on LinkedIn has been growing all year. It increased by 11% since the beginning of March.
As the definition of essential business narrows and unemployment rates rise, entertainment and left-of-center media faces the highest risk. Already this month, Bustle Digital Group laid off the entire staff at the brilliant online publication The Outline. And there are likely more blows to come as media companies adapt to the new normal.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.