Opinion: Journalistic Trepidation

Whenever I tell someone I’m a journalism major, the reply is often: “Fantastic! We need more good journalists in the world.” I appreciate that response. It’s a small, polite thing to say, but it recognizes the element that matters in media–the writers. And in light of sweeping layoffs, it feels like news corporations missed the memo.

The news hit like a one-two punch. Gannett, Verizon Media and Buzzfeed cut staff in the same 24 hour span. About 1,000 people lost their jobs. These corporations downsized for a variety of reasons, but it’s all still distressing.

Gannett continues to shrink and laid off cartoonists and columnists like IndyStar’s Tim Swarens. The Huffington Post, owned by Verizon Media, laid off seven percent across the board. Buzzfeed culled its cute side, because it’s cheaper to crowdsource quizzes, as well as writers from Buzzfeed News.

https://twitter.com/tswarens/status/1088098963109093376?s=12

I can only imagine how stressful this was and continues to be for every staff member involved. My condolences go out to each one of them.

It’s been horrifying just to read it all unfold. Disheartening but unsurprising. One could blame a lack of paid subscribers, but that’s disingenuous. Buzzfeed is worth millions of dollars but uppermost management still chose to fire 15 percent of their workforce department by department. Former employees and their surviving colleagues had to demand paid time off severance.

I wonder how digital media is supposed to operate at this rate. The layoffs have sparked discourse about Facebook and Google’s complicity in strangling news media, but this has been a slow killing. Staying afloat matters but at what cost?

I’m alarmed when I consider how many veteran reporters are struggling to find full employment and that I’m potential competition. This has bothered me for some time and I know I’m not alone. My peers and I live in an era when disinformation is a weapon, but profit remains the greatest priority.

Journalism is a stressful, borderline thankless job whether it’s the city desk or investigative. A little job security would be nice. But CEOs and shareholders rarely understand that.

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