A bunch of media companies announced layoffs over the last week, including the once high-flying BuzzFeed, which is shedding 15% of its workforce.
Publishers — print and digital both — have long been trying to figure out how to make money in the midst of the massive disruption of this whole Internet thing. Beyond Google and Facebook, no one has truly done so, with a few major players such as The New York Times and The Washington Post holding their own due to existing scale, brand identity, and billionaire backing (in the case of WaPo, and it seems The Los Angeles Times as well these days).
Paywalls are one method that digital publishers continue to experiment with. Here’s a piece on what New York Media is up to (which includes high quality properties including New York Magazine and Vulture).
As this New Yorker piece points out (“Does Journalism Have a Future”):
- Most newspapers like that haven’t lasted. Between 1970 and 2016, the year the American Society of News Editors quit counting, five hundred or so dailies went out of business; the rest cut news coverage, or shrank the paper’s size, or stopped producing a print edition, or did all of that, and it still wasn’t enough.
Chris Hayes adds:
- What if there is literally no profitable model for digital news? Or none that actually scales and endures without, say, the established readership base and brand of the NYT. This seems…increasingly likely to me?
This tweet storm from Jeremy Littau, a journalism professor at Lehigh University, offers a pretty amazing history and context for how we got to where we are.
And as noted at top, if nothing else, check out this chart that displays changes to print and digital advertising revenue for news publishers, while contrasting the massive explosion of revenue for Google and Facebook.
This post originally appeared in what had originally been called The Eric Berlin E-mail Newsletter. To get a weekly blast of pop culture, digital media, and politics that helps make sense of an increasingly frazzled world, sign on up for The Berlin Files here.