The News Business: “Traffic numbers are up, the ad contraction is brutal.”

From a New York Times story, “News Media Outlets Have Been Ravaged by the Pandemic,” by Marc Tracy:

The news media business was shaky before the coronavirus started spreading across the country last month. Since then, the economic downturn that put nearly 17 million Americans out of work has led to pay cuts, layoffs and shutdowns at many news outlets. . . .

Finding a sizable audience has not been a problem for publishers. Hunger for news in a time of crisis has sent droves of readers to many publications. But with businesses paused or closed — and no longer willing or able to pay for advertisements — a crucial part of the industry’s support system has cracked.

“The traffic numbers are still way up,” said David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association representing newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. “The digital subscriptions are hanging in there.”

He added, “The ad contraction is brutal and continuing.”

Some examples:

Gannett: The publisher of USA Today, The Detroit Free Press and more than 250 other daily newspapers, has ordered the majority of its 24,000 employees to take five days off per month without pay in April, May and June, staff memos revealed, and executives will take a 25 percent pay cut. Paul Bascobert, the chief executive, said he would not take his salary until the crisis was over.

In-flight magazines: A magazine genre caught between the stalled airlines industry and the troubled media business is in jeopardy. Sky magazine, which had been stuffed into seat backs of Delta jets for a decade, is no more.

Lee Enterprises: With more than 70 papers, including The Buffalo News and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this national chain has instituted pay cuts and furloughs for its employees, according to a staff memo from Kevin Mowbray, the chief executive. Executives have taken a 20 percent pay cut. Lee Enterprises got bigger in January, when it bought 31 newspapers for $140 million from Berkshire Hathaway, whose chief executive, Warren Buffett, called the newspaper business “toast” last year.

Tribune Publishing: The publicly traded company behind The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and The New York Daily News said on Thursday that it would permanently cut the salaries of those making more than $67,000 by 2 percent to 10 percent. The company will also offer an undisclosed number of buyouts, and employees have until April 17 to decide.

The Plain Dealer: The near-collapse of this venerable Cleveland daily, owned by Advance Publications, coincided with the economic downturn. The company laid off 22 of 36 newsroom employees on April 3, a move that benefited the Advance-owned, a news site whose articles have appeared in The Plain Dealer’s pages. Unlike The Plain Dealer, is not a union shop.

San Diego Magazine: This city magazine, founded in the 1940s, has laid off 37 employees — everyone but the bookkeeper — while it waits out the pandemic, said Jim Fitzpatrick, the chief executive and publisher. The May issue is “in the can,” he added, but he is not sure when it will come out.

Tampa Bay Times: Owned by The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit, this Florida daily has limited its print editions to two days a week — Wednesdays and Sundays — and issued eight-week furloughs “for some staffers whose work has been impacted by the virus’ effect on the economy,” a spokeswoman said. The furloughs do not apply to newsroom employees. Last month, in a move unrelated to the pandemic, the paper announced 11 layoffs and a 10 percent pay cut for full-time staff members.

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