Bracing for Ad Slowdown, Media Companies Cut Jobs

From a Wall Street Journal story by Alexandra Bruell and Joseph DeAvila headlined “Media Companies Cut Jobs as They Brace for Advertising Slowdown”:

News publishers across the U.S. are trimming staff, as a challenging economic environment is leading advertisers to pull back on spending.

Vox Media, the publisher of New York Magazine, Curbed and SB Nation, on Friday told employees it would lay off approximately 7% of its staff, which people familiar with the matter said amounted to about 130 people losing their jobs. The cuts at Vox come as other media companies, including Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. and BuzzFeed Inc. are resorting to layoffs.

Vox Media, which acquired Group Nine Media last year, said the layoffs would affect several divisions, including revenue, editorial and operations, according to a note to staff reviewed by the Journal.

“We are experiencing and expect more of the same economic and financial pressures that others in the media and tech industries have encountered,” Vox Chief Executive Jim Bankoff wrote.

Some media companies are expecting digital ad revenue to be down by double-digit percentages in the current quarter compared with a year earlier, as advertisers trim their marketing costs and adjust plans, according to media executives. Advertising is often among the first expenses cut by companies looking to trim spending during economic uncertainty.

Several companies that used to spend heavily on digital advertising in media outlets, including large technology companies and streaming services, have reduced their ad spending as they face their own challenges, media executives have said. Many tech giants including Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. recently announced layoffs of tens of thousands of employees combined.

Last week, Dow Jones announced layoffs, which a person familiar with the matter said would amount to less than 2% of the company’s workforce of about 5,500.

The majority of the layoffs affect business roles at Dow Jones, which beyond the Journal also owns MarketWatch and Barron’s, the person familiar with the matter said. Although a small number of editorial jobs have been cut, the layoffs didn’t affect the Journal’s newsroom staff, the person said.

“Like any business, we adjust to market demands and pressures, while staying focused on our mission,” said a Dow Jones spokeswoman in a statement. “In light of that, several teams have partially reorganized to align with our priorities and position us for further growth.”

Dow Jones is part of a media holding company that had 25,500 employees, including 9,000 in the U.S., as of June 30. In addition to Dow Jones, News Corp owns HarperCollins Publishers and news organizations in the U.K. and Australia.

Washington Post CEO Fred Ryan recently warned employees in a December meeting about impending layoffs of less than 10% of staff. The Washington Post also had said it would stop publishing its Sunday print magazine, resulting in the loss of about 10 jobs.

Late last year, Gannett Inc., the publisher of many newspapers including USA Today, laid off more than 200 people, on top of an additional 400 job cuts earlier in the year.

BuzzFeed, a digital-media company whose brands include BuzzFeed, Complex and HuffPost, in December announced plans to cut about 12% of its workforce. The cuts affected just under 180 employees primarily across sales, tech, studio production and, as well as Complex Networks.

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