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Massive layoffs send memo to the corporate media: Americans hate you

The LA Times laid off one quarter of its newsroom staff last month.
Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, February 5, 2024

It's been a rough couple of months for the corporate media including once major platforms as well as upstarts with attitude.

The news site The Messenger — which launched last year with bravado and a $50 million budget — abruptly collapsed, firing roughly 300 staffers who were left without health insurance or severance.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and digital news site Business Insider also laid off significant portions of their staff last month.

Sports Illustrated laid off its entire staff and essentially shut down.

What's going on?

For decades, publishers and editors have been telling themselves at professional association conventions that declining media credibility ratings are due to PR failures on their part, not to the quality of their journalism.

But the shuttering of newsrooms in recent weeks reveals issues that go beyond surveys. The corporate media are dying, on life support and arguably already dead.

To be sure, the Internet and other rapidly-evolving media technologies have transformed the news industry landscape and the legacy media have been slow to adapt. But the interconnectedness of the online community have laid bare abundant evidence that public attitudes toward the press have also evolved.

Online comments reveal that the media is not only out of touch but also seen as a hostile force.

"It's just desserts for the way they covered the news," said independent journalist Megyn Kelly. "Media is hurting. It's endangered. And there's a very good reason for it."

Author Andrew Klavin, a guest on The Megyn Kelly show (see below), noted: "At some moment, the thought enters these people's heads that their reason for being journalists is not to report the news ... but to teach us their higher superior reality and teach us why we are not deserving until we raise ourselves to their moral standards."

Related: Imagine a world ‘without journalists’: Lament by WaPo star was not satire, January 28, 2024

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal on Thursday laid off roughly 20 staffers in its Washington, D.C. bureau. The bureau’s team covering U.S.-China news will be shuttered.

In an email to staffers that was reviewed by The Washington Post, Editor in Chief Emma Tucker said the Journal’s Washington bureau will now focus specifically on “politics, policy, defense, law, intelligence and national security.” [China is central to all of these. There is no indication Tucker knows or has had any professional experience with any of them.] Laid-off staffers will be allowed to apply to some new jobs created to replace the coverage, according to Tucker.

“It is imperative that we have the right structure in Washington to deliver trusted, ambitious reporting for our readers in an election year and beyond,” Tucker wrote.

The Journal, which is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, did not respond to requests for comment about exactly how many staffers will lose their jobs.

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