Job cuts in media topped 30,000 in 2020

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The media industry was racked by a record 30,711 job cuts in 2020 — a stunning increase of 201 percent from the year earlier when 10,201 jobs were lost.

The figures, which were rolled out Thursday by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, included jobs data from the news industry, advertising, television and movie production.

Last year’s dismal results topped the previous all-time record of 28,802 jobs lost in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession. And cutbacks in newsrooms, whether broadcast, digital or print, accounted for more than half the losses, or some 16,180 cuts.

Newsrooms from Buzzfeed to Vice began cutting back in droves when the pandemic hit in March and dried up advertising revenue. While some of those publications, like Conde Nast and Meredith, have since reversed pay cuts unveiled earlier this year, not everyone has been able to do so. A steep 23-percent pay cut at the National Enquirer parent company A360 Media remains in place, for example.

Plus, very few companies appear to be adding back furloughed staff. The Challenger, Gray & Christian report found the media industry has only announced plans to add back 1,615 jobs over 2020.

Advertisers saw layoffs of 30 percent last year, the report said. And despite the first round of vaccines reaching consumers in December, the nation continues to wrestle with the economic fallout of ever rising cases. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, meanwhile, is predicting a mere 5.3 percent increase in ad spending in 2021.

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