Layoffs are the media’s own ‘carnage’ as the industry struggles to deal with oversupply and evolving technology
While social media tells the sad tale of those losing their positions, others applaud the decline of traditional media, not realizing that the media world is incredibly diverse, and includes all kinds of media, even the fringes
The inauguration speech of the new president was much criticized for the line “this American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” It was silly line, but consistent with the campaign themes used by the Republican candidate: everything is going to hell in a handbasket and only DJT could reverse things.
In fact, the outgoing president had inherited the worst economic conditions since the great depression — and though growth, both in relation to GDP and employment, was lower than many hoped, both improved dramatically under Obama.
But one segment that never recovered was the world of traditional media, especially print. In this regards, there truly was carnage, and continues to be.
Yesterday, we learned that Time Inc. would have another round of layoffs, and other media properties are reporting layoffs, as well. Vocativ, whose much maligned motto is News From the Deep Web, has apparently laid off its entire text editorial side in order to concentrate solely on video
Had a wonderful time at Vocativ, but we’ve all been laid off. I’m a cyber/privacy/politics/policy guy who reports & edits & now wants a job.
— Kevin Collier (@kevincollier) June 14, 2017
Meanwhile, word is leaking out of those leaving Time Inc.
Mathew Ingram, who up until January 2010 worked at The Globe and Mail, is one of those let go by Time Inc. Ingram left newspapers to join paidContent, which was then acquired by Gigaom. When that site was closed down in 2015, Ingram was hired to write for Fortune magazine where he covered the media, among other topics.
Also getting hit this week is The Huffington Post, with positions being eliminated following Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo. The union reports 39 members were notified today that their positions had been eliminated.
On social media, some are celebrating — even pointing to Breitbart News, failing to see the irony of applauding the decline of one media property, while at the same time not being conscious about where they get their news, and that it, too is “media”.
— America Rages! 🇺🇸 (@POTUSFerocused) June 14, 2017
So, why is this happening? Is it only about traditional media’s failure to adjust to digital?
It would be nice to come up with simple answers, but the picture is far more complex than that.
Everyone seems to have an idea about what is wrong — but, to be honest, I’m tired of hearing from those who have never had success in media themselves, much less ever been responsible for creating a budget or meeting P&L objectives. Sometimes we just have to admit that the bottom line is, well, the bottom line.
But as I told one executive at a major media company this morning, things like diversification remain important. Having the right strategy is great, but successfully implementing it is important, too.
We are currently in an era where most media managers believe that there is a simple strategy that can be employed, and they are hellbent on seeing that strategy through, even if it means laying off staff every once in a while.
But it also has been said that, thanks to the increase ease of digital publishing, combined with the growth of social media, there is now an oversupply of content.
Just as once the only way to acquire music was the local record store, now nearly all music is available through iTunes, Amazon or through streaming — so too is media in oversupply. One voice is as loud as another, even if one voice comes from that of a trained journalist, the other… from who knows where.
This site is a perfect example, unfortunately. I’ve been in publishing professionally since 1981, but anyone can write about media these days, and most of the sites that do are staffed with those whose very first job in media was to do so. Some end up doing a great job and are supported by editors and revenue producers. Others come and go so frequently that it is hard to chronicle their launch and death. But success is not merely a matter of doing one thing well: content or design or technology is not enough in isolation, nor is having one great idea.
The media business, like making a film, involves many different skills, great ideas, creativity, sufficient funding, license to experiment. Then a lot of luck.
Good luck to all of you.